When I started writing “seriously” I found myself slowly giving up some things. These were things that I never once thought I’d just toss away like yesterday’s trash, but I did. Most of the time I didn’t realize they were gone until much later. By then I’d forgotten about them. Some of them I still miss, and I do plan to take back someday. Others I never needed in the first place. So what ten things did I give up for writing? Some of them I’m sure you’ve already guessed, but here goes:
This was the first thing to go, although I might argue that I never really had sleep to begin with. Now I sacrifice sleep above anything else. I figure I can sleep when I’m dead, right? For now, I’ll just take what my body says it requires and no more. I do miss those long, deep sleeps where your dreams get all fucked up. Know those ones? Sigh. Sometimes I let myself have one of those just for inspiration. The Ropers dream is one I’d like to revisit because I think there’s a story in there. A twisted, messed up, terrifying story.
2. Reality Television
You have no idea how hard it was to give this up. I loved all the Big Brother, Bachelor and Survivor shit. Fear Factor? One of my favorite shows. But alas, writing takes time and reality television wasn’t contributing a damn thing to my life. So off it went. Besides, I’d get caught up in something I was writing, miss a show and then I was fucked for the rest of the season. That’s so damn frustrating. Instead of watching any television (aside from Republic of Doyle
– Allan Hawko, sigh—and Big Bang Theory
), I buy seasons of certain shows (True Blood, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, etc.) on DVD, or watch them on Netflix. This way, I can get my fix when I have time for said fix.
3. Snack Time
Sort of. I miss my old snack time, which usually fell between 7pm and 9pm each night. I’d grab whatever was most unhealthy for me, and sit on the couch with my big blanket to watch whatever was on the TV, or to read whatever was waiting on the end table, and I’d just zone out for an hour. God, I miss that. Now it’s limited to 30 minutes or less and consists of a handful of chips and yammering at Kurt until he threatens to punch me. On the plus side: I’ve lost those ten pounds that kept lurking out around my ass. So there’s that.
It’s overrated I know, but I miss the days where clear, lucid thought was just a given. Now I’ve got so much shit in my head, it takes a good five minutes to slow that shit down and figure out where I left my keys. Someone asked me my name a few weeks ago and I blanked out. Who forgets their damn name? I see a horrible story on the news and I try to think about how I could improve it in book form. I hear someone say something funny and I’m trying to recall it until I can get home and write it down for some character to say somewhere. I find myself figuring out ways to write more, sleep less, plot more, socialize less…you get the idea. If anyone messes with my writing schedule or my “mood” then I truly visualize either killing them, or torturing them in ways I’m pretty sure a psychiatrist would frown upon.
Not patience, I gave up impatience. I used to be the most impatient person you’d ever meet. Waiting? Pfft, that was for the rest of the morons. Not me. I’ve learned during this process that impatience does nothing but cause mass burials in the backyard. Instead, I’ve learned to breathe and then forget about whatever it is I’m being forced to wait for. I’ve also learned that I cannot possibly type as fast as I can think. It used to frustrate the shit out of me, but now I’m good with it. I just allow myself to make mistakes, type half-thoughts and gloss over some details so I can keep up with my brain. I’ve learned there’s no shame in going back and fixing it all later. It’s called rewriting.
6. A Clean House
Oh never mind. I gave this shit up a long time ago. I won’t lie to you. It just got worse when I started writing. I’ll spare my mother the embarrassment and we won’t get into descriptions of my house.
7. Being Normal
I simply don’t do normal things anymore and I certainly don’t think like normal people think. I don’t think I ever truly wanted to be normal anyway. It’s rather boring and feels like a noose slowly strangling fun Renee. Writing gave me the excuse to say fuckit. Weird is where it’s at.
I am never bored. Not ever. I never thought I’d say that, and I certainly didn’t imagine I’d miss boredom, but I do. I miss the emptiness of it. That’s very relaxing you know. Someday soon though, I plan to learn how to empty my brain now and then. I’m sure it’d be a good stress reliever. So far, I haven’t been successful at it. I empty and shit just comes in the other side.
9. Ignorance of shitty writing
I used to read voraciously. I’d read anything and everything within my favorite genres, and there wasn’t much I really complained about. To be honest, I used to self-correct things that were wonky automatically. It didn’t occur to me that a reader shouldn’t do that if the writer has any skills. I miss that ignorance. It made reading so much more enjoyable. On the other hand, it’s stopped me from wasting money on fluff, and it’s taught me that I do know what I’m doing on my end. Knowing good writing from bad has also opened me up to a world of writers I’d never have considered before. I used to be a genre whore. Anything outside my genres of choice, I’d never touch. Now, I’ll read anything if it’s written well. The shitty books I save for craft projects with the kids.
When I started writing, it was for fun. I didn’t care about grammar, plot or characterization. When I turned to writing to publish, all of these rules coming at me just overwhelmed me, and they reminded me why I abandoned that childhood dream of being an author to begin with. It’s hard and it can be soul-shattering if you don’t believe in yourself. But then one day I realized I was causing my own problems. If I didn’t believe in myself and my ability, of course I’d suck for eternity. There’s no way to improve if you have no confidence in your skills. So, I chucked self-doubt aside, and my writing became more open and smooth. I found my voice and I am proud of it. Self-doubt has no place in writing and it’s one thing I do not miss. Also, this confidence spills over into other areas of my life, which is kind of nice.
So there you have it. Ten things I gave up when I started to write “seriously.” There are more very minor things, but they’re not really things I miss at all. I gave up smooth legs and makeup because I just don’t have time to worry about such things every single day. Hey, I’ve got a lot of leg to clear, and I do try to keep them from becoming sasquatchy, so just leave me alone. And makeup is on an “as needed” basis. I would’ve died before I’d go out without makeup on a few years ago. Now I’m like “yeah, I’m sick.” because I always get that question. “You feeling okay, you’re a little pale.” It’s called genetics, asshole.
Tangent. Sorry. Anyway, what things have you given up in order to write? Do you miss them?