The only thing worse than a sharing your work with your friends and having them hate it, is sharing your work with your friends and having them say nothing at all.
There is this phrase floating around–me-time. Hasn’t it floated your way? Haven’t you said, “I need some me-time?” or some variation on that at some point or another since you reached adulthood? Well, I tell you who doesn’t say it–children and men. Okay, maybe men do say it. To be honest, my experience with men is limited, but I can’t imagine my dad ever walking into the house announcing he was going out to get some me-time. In eleven years of marriage and I’m certain my husband has never said it either. Of course, I’m rather of the opinion that since all the world’s clocks are set to man-time, they hardly need say it. This may be unfair, but I’m too busy using my me-time to think about it.
I suspect that me-time may also be somewhat cultural or class specific. Does a brothel worker in India think about getting some me-time in between customers? Maybe. Maybe not. Does a Darfur refugee wish for me-time? How many women of the world have actually even heard of it?
Well, I’ve heard of it and I’m greedy and I want more of it. Who wouldn’t want me-time instead dish-washing-time? Unless of course you like washing dishes. Grading papers is not me-time, laundry is not me-time, and paying bills is definitely not me-time. What me-time truly is may be up for debate, but as far as I’m concerned, these things are not it.
What do I do with my me-time? Write. Sometimes I make art, but mostly I write. My me-time is spent creating characters and imagining the horrible things I can do to them. Perfectly normal, right? Of course it is.
Okay, so now I’ve muddied my thinking. I’m writing and I want to be published. I want it to be my job. I want to make a living at it. Now, leaving aside how next-to-impossible that dream is (pipe dreams going cheap!), if I do something as a job and I get paid for it, then is doing it qualify as me-time? Is my work and my free-time the same thing? If my writing is my me-time–well, who really takes things done in me-time seriously? You see, I think men don’t use the term because it sounds silly to them. Frivolous. A girl thing. Yes, I could be WAY off base (I’ve been known to be standing far afield before, not even able to find the base), but I can’t help but suspect that if writing is a hobby, if it is a me-time thing, then it isn’t a real job and, therefore, doesn’t need to be treated as such.
So, will a paycheck suddenly make it work? Or if my writing is work, does that mean I actually don’t have any me-time? I would assume that me-time is, well, to state the obvious, time for, you know, me. That said, if you gave me a large box of me-time, and the instructions on the box said, “Not to be used for housework, parenting, family/friend obligations, earning-a-living, grading papers, or writing. Failure to follow stated guidelines will result in immediate termination of me-time and the box will self-destruct” what would I do?
I’ll tell you what I would do–I’d sit there like a fool and think about writing. I can only conclude that me-time is just time spent in my head without interruption. This could mean I’m mentally off the playing field or that I’m a writer. What clues should I be looking for to answer this?
We may never know, but all the same, I’d like to know what you would do if a box of me-time arrived on your doorstep (with big letters stamped on the side–FRAGILE. HANDLE WITH CARE. I hate it when me-time arrives all broken up.)
My ever-wonderful friend Kathryn memed me the other day (one of these day’s I’m going to master blog lingo) with Five Things in My Fridge. I was wondering what pictures I could take without looking like the dietary-challenged or a bad mother, when it hit me–my characters need a few memes tossed their way. Well, of course they do!
So here is me tagging my characters. Linnie and Mercie over in Lake Belle are going to show what’s in their fridge, and after that they are sure to tag The Belle Weather, too. And while I’m at it I’m going to send them every tag I’ve been smacked with, and we’ll see how much I actually know these people. Or how crazy I can make myself.
This reminds me of when I was six and would play with a school yard full of imaginary friends. Hey, why have one imaginary friend when you can have enough to play a good game of tag? I must have looked like a little idiot running from one imaginary friend to the next all the while screaming.
Okay, I would never in a million lifetimes plus one burn a book without a death threat being involved, but sometimes those shelves get a little crowded. I bet your books would rather be part of a castle, too, than part of a dust collection. Dust bunnies aren’t nearly as fun as four-year-olds, and they can’t read either.
And in the spirit of book addiction and castle building, I’m going along with being tagged by a writer who happens to live at intriguing character central. (You should be so lucky.)
1. One book that changed your life.
I don’t know, even though this answer always makes me feel like I wasn’t a clever enough child.
2. One book that you have read more than once.
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
3. One book that you would want on a deserted island.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
4. Two books that made you laugh.
God Said, “Ha!” by Julia Sweeney and Surrender the Pink by Carrie Fisher
5. One book that made you cry.
Possession by A.S. Byatt
6. One book you wish you’d written.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
7. One book you wish had never been written.
There might be a few books wish I’d never read, but I don’t begrudge them having been written.
8. Two books that you are currently reading.
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman and American Mania by Peter C. Whybrow, MD
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read.
Middlemarch by George Elliot
10. Who do you tag?
Any booklover reading this. That means you.
The writing life often becomes the self-involved life. Writers spend lots of time alone in their own heads and awash in insecurity. Writers keep everything they scribble on, every conversation they overhear, every interesting bit they observe–they keep everything that serves the writing and disregard the rest. I for one have ignored my family, my friends, and my work just to write.
So, for our sanity and humanity we all should take time to step back and take note of the people who encourage and support us, even as we might prefer the company of imaginary people to real ones. Shelli at Mama_of_Letters was kind and thoughtful enough to send me a blessing from her corner of cyberspace, and the best way I can thank her is to send the blessing on to others as well. This blessing idea began at Ukok’s Place, and though I certainly have mixed feelings about religion, I can’t argue with sending others our best wishes and hopes and thanks with whatever words make sense to you.
A blessing must go back to Shelli. She visits all my blogs and comments on them, and she generally makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.
But I ought to bless three more people to keep this going…
Kathryn. It might never have realized the power of blogging without her. She has been supportive and true–and I miss having her nearby.
Ami. My college roommate, who in spite of everything she’s been through, has persevered to write an amazing novel–and still find time to be a friend. She gives hope and is always kind. I want to bless her and persuade you to read her book.
Sigh…there are many who I could certainly bless, and I really do bless everyone who stops by and leaves a comment, but specifically I bless Simple Blog Writer because her writing reveals another bit about the world, makes me laugh, or makes me think. I look forward to her posts, and hope she’s writing a book.
May the creative, imaginative life always be yours, and may a blessing of one kind or another always be waiting for you around the next bend.
There are thousands more important things to write about, but I just want to observe that when a person has had an awful day at work–a truly awful, sucky, worst-day-in-years sort of day–it is nearly impossible to write anything. Most of the time I can shake off annoyances and throw myself into my story. Not today. Today I just want to stomp to my room and kick things.
Finally, a way to acknowledge Martin Luther King that rings true for me. Sure, I could be a grand person and go to march planned for the day, but it is cold and wet AND I had this whole day free to work on my novel. That’s me–selfish to no end. So, I could be doing these I’m-a-better-person things, but I’d be out there the whole time thinking about the characters in my book and I’d be irritated at King for taking me away from it and I’d feel guilty for wanting to be with my novel instead.
But tonight I have read Simple Blog Writer’s blog, and lo! A wonderful idea that cheers and means something. Apparently, Brian Lehrer of WNYC “invites listeners to read about a culture other than their own.” How great is that? You’ve got reading, sharing, and book buying all in one. It may not change the world, but I agree with SBW–it’s nice to think of people searching shelves for a different voice. I mean, hey, what do you have on your shelf?
In the spirit of the day, I’ve gotten out one of my favorite novels ever and selected a passage to share. If it speaks to you, go buy the book.
But on second thought, someone who didn’t know how to ask wouldn’t know how to listen. And he coulda listened to then the way you been listening to us right now. Think about it: ain’t nobody really talking to you. We’re sitting here in Willow Springs, and you’re God-knows-where. It’s August 1999–ain’t but a slim chance it’s the same season where you are. Uh, huh, listen. Really listen this time: the only voice is your own.
Now, I’d love for you to find something and share it with me.
MPJ sent this tag my way, and so here it goes.
Post links to five of your previous posts. There should be one post for each of the following words–family, friends, yourself, your love, and anything you like. Tag five folks to do the same, and at least two of those folks you shouldn’t know well. The idea is to get to know others better and for them to know you.
I’ve been blogging for a short time (since the end of May 2007) and I don’t write that much about my personal life, but I came up with these old posts from when almost no one was reading anything here.
About keeping up with my friends.
About my family. Sort of.
About my love.
And about anything I like…well, anything to go back to Neil–here’s the last.
The thing is, I actually liked being tagged (hey, it makes up for all those times I was never picked for the team), but I feel weird tagging others (like the pesky kid bothering the cool kids). So, if you’ve been reading here and would like me to read something from your past, please grab the tag and run with it.