Just to be clear, I do not have a green thumb. Literally or in the sense most people use the phrase. I kept mint going pretty well back in college, could keep mini roses for a few months, and I grew snapdragons for a while, because those are hardy little buggers I’d totally grow again. I’d probably also do well with succulents. Plants require attention, and plants don’t purr, so I’m much less likely to give them said attention.
However, something happens when I’m in the middle of writing projects, when I’m devoted to the discipline of writing even when I don’t want to.
Other creative places in my brain start waking up. I stayed awake for an hour and a half because my brain wanted me to make jewelry again, and it wasn’t going to stop until it was finished designing, even though I can’t begin to work on jewelry until the new year.
In the middle of work, I’ll jot lyric snippets down on sticky notes when they pass through my head (because I learned a long time ago that if I don’t write The Thing down, it does not stay remembered). Oh yeah, I just decided one day that I wanted to try writing songs, even though poetry was never my forte and I don’t know how to write music. It might be a 2018 project to keep me from ruminating over the apocalypse. Seriously, folks, I’m making this up as I go, and it’s not like I’m certain I’ll ever share the songs with anyone.
I have a miniature notebook where I write down new story ideas, not to mention the notes I write in the margins of my big longhand notebooks or on other sticky notes. That’s the main thing. When I plant a creative tree, that tree keeps growing and putting out new branches, new leaves. It takes all my effort to prune the damn thing so I can get my projects done rather than start on a new story every other week, which would lead to a lot of chasing white rabbits and no finished works to show for it.
But that To Write list keeps getting longer, and I’m a long-form writer who can’t churn finished work out that quickly. The ideas have bottle-necked in my brain, which is a surefire way to make that brain sick. The only solution is to stop being creative, but I can’t stop being creative because it’s all I have at this point. I have my day-job, and I have this. I sacrificed a life for this. It consumes every waking moment. It’s not stopping, and it’s not getting better.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the inspiration. But I’m only one artist, and I only have so much time in a day. Never enough time. I’ve written over 250,000 words this year, and there’s still not enough time to move the stories through fast enough for me to keep up. Tell me to get up earlier in the morning to write more, and I will find you, tie you up, and tickle you with a redheaded centipede. Discipline is not the problem. Depression occasionally is—at the moment it’s there, but not an obstacle, so I’ll get as much done as I can while it’s not.
My problem is time. Always time. I could have fifty more years, but I could also only have a week. Even if I have fifty years, would it be enough to get everything down, everything out? If it’s a week, I have so many regrets, I’d rather have something to show for it.