Sometimes shit happens.
Generally, it happens right after a commitment, or a recommitment. Shit likes to hide off to the side, waiting until the right time to strike and derail us.
Sometimes, very often, the derailment works. The trick isn’t to power through it, or to stick it out, or to beat ourselves up for having to take time away, even though we just barely got started and didn’t have momentum yet.
The trick to dealing with shit is: set aside what isn’t important, take time to deal with things, and then calmly begin again.
Trust me on this: I’ve dealt with my share of shit.
At the beginning of this month, I made a commitment to write five blog posts a week. I was ready, I had a game plan, I was excited.
Guess what happened right after that.
Last month, my mother was diagnosed with early stage endometrial cancer. We took it in stride the way my family tends to do – she got as many tests as she needed for an accurate diagnosis, got in to an oncologist as early as she could, and made an appointment for surgery (which should be the only treatment she needs).
Her surgery was scheduled for the ninth of September, last Wednesday afternoon. I figured I could rough draft my blog posts and then polish them up while she was in OR, and get them posted, all while making the beginning of the week work-heavy and get my Real Job deadlines taken care of.
But work got stalled, and my mom needed things like groceries and getting her house cleaned up and rearranged to accommodate her recovery. There was a lot to do, and so the shit began. Her surgery was delayed for six hours, leaving me and my sister to wander the hospital for ten hours, watching hours of Simon’s Cat and waiting, waiting, waiting. The next day we brought her home early, and between helping her stand and sit, fetching groceries and meditations, and everything else…
You get the picture.
What attention span I had between helping her stand or lay down, or the latest run to get food or meds or whatever, had to be devoted to the Real Job (rent yo, it’s important). I wanted to write, but I didn’t have anything left over.
And so here I am, I missed a week and more of my goal.
I’m telling you all of this not because it’s anything extraordinary, but because it isn’t. People get sick, work deadlines get moved, family members die, friends go through breakups, our relationships need maintenance.
I think we neglect talking about it as writers, as creatives. We like to act as though we are somehow above getting derailed or tired or overworked. We like to pretend that the best way is to still write every damn day, to never let ourselves stop. And if we do stop, we feel guilty (or at least feel like we owe an explanation, which we don’t).
It’s kind of fucked up.
Realistically, if we would (or do) take time off of a job, or would cancel plans with a friend to handle the shit that is happening, we can give ourselves a break from writing, or art, or whatever.
Just stop, breathe, and deal with the shit. Take a break and handle life; be a friend, take care of your family, get some sleep.
Then get back to it.