The sickness or the cure?


Growing out of sorts with the world, I used to pick up my pen and write. The act of writing nearly always restored me. It struck me that my time of sickness came about through not writing. Writing had the effects of addiction. Without it I grew sick, with it I grew better. I pondered the question, is writing the sickness or the cure? Do I grow sick because of this need to write, or does writing save me from sickness?

Whatever the answer, the fact remained. I had to write to stay sane.

I realize this as I sit by a window looking out across a valley in France. This is the view I've stared out across through the creation of several books. Instead of writing a book just now, I've been marking a stack of essays and preparing a run of lesson plans - this is the one week mid-term break from my new teaching job. My mind's just shrieked a halt to all the schoolwork and I've turned to this journal instead. As I write, the old solution comes back. The teaching job requires more than 75 hours a week, which leaves little time and no energy for writing. Even so I have to write. I can't hold myself together without it.

Writing will always be more than a profession. I've taken the attitude that I have so much work written and needing to be sold that it's pointless to write more. I'll write again once someone comes along prepared to pay me for what I produce. That's a proper professional attitude, but it misses one vital point. A writer needs to earn, but a writer has an equal need to write. It's a need as strong as exercise, as sleep, as taking time in nature. Without it a writer fades to nothing.

Time to tune in to that side of me and see what comes.

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