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The Writing Life: A Personal Note

By Remy Benoit

   Some folks have a romanticized view of "the writing life,"  perhaps seeing it as inspirational walks through rose gardens (well, yes, sometimes); as visits to old plantation houses ( those too, sometimes); as quiet, solitude, words flowing and heart glowing. Well, that too, sometimes.

   There is the old view of the writer, banging away at a manual typewriter  in the "wee small hours of the morning," cigarette,  booze balanced so the keys can be hit.
   Interesting pictures, but writing is work, hard work, and most days, almost all days, real life is right there making its demands.

   I just moved two months ago to a new, old home. We are still unpacking, painting, calling the plumber. With three acres, a woman of a certain age needs a lawn tractor. Okay, but not okay that the blade got bent, replaced, only to have the belt fly out the back end. Now, I have a diagram and sparse words that will tell me how to remove the top to get the new belt on. Ah, but will it adequately explain how to get the top back on?  A distraction from the writing, or material to be used sometime in some story or novel? That depends on how you come to process things.

   While I am awaiting the publication in the next few weeks of Loving, by Pharaoh Press, I am at work on the new one, Blood Heat. If I waited, put that aside, until the home was "perfect" I would possibly lose the threads of the story that have been weaving through my brain for months. Again, it is a matter of choice. Acknowledging that the house will never be "perfect," and what will? the work goes on with the novel amidst the paint cans, piles of books waiting for shelves to go up, the websites, etc.,etc.

   And then there is the matter of the mortgage payment and finding new work to pay for the house, the websites, the paper, the electric  to run the computers, etc. And yes, food helps too:)

   The thing about "the writing life" is that if you really, really want it, you make time for it amidst the job, the home repairs, the housework, the kids, the dog that has to be walked at 7PM sharp, the flu, the e-mails, the telephone, the UPS person at door. Yes, you can throw in blizzards, Nor'Easters, and hurricanes. Yet there is some terrific material to be gained from really experiencing those!

   Does that sound like a challenge?

   Well, there is  more.

   To write  you need to read, extravagantly, widely. You need to take those soul feeding hours to walk in a rose garden, go to a Renaissance Festival, a ball game, for a walk on the beach, for a ride on a boat. You need to take time to clear your head, to pray, to meditate, to clarify what exactly you are trying to say with all those delicious words amidst all the demands of family life and taking the time for hugs and the saying I love you.

  For being a writer also carries a responsibility.

  Words have power.

  Words can change lives.

  What kind of impact do you want your words to have?    

  Your writing needs a Mission Statement, a topic I have touched on in the Spirituality section.

  Mine is simple: To  use the words to help to heal and bring peace.

  What is yours?

  And will you make the commitment that no matter what falls from the sky, breaks in the house or yard, throws itself in front of you, that you will get up, do the proverbial dusting off, and take it all  back to the words?

  If your answer is YES, YES, YES...then welcome to The Writing Life.

  Be peace,


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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