This one might be a little self-indulgent so I won’t be offended if you switch over to Netflix instead.
Getting up in the morning, often very early in the morning, has become something I look forward to lately. Almost immediately after I decided to stop drinking, I began writing. Initially, it was just longer Facebook updates (very) lightly exploring some deeper things I’d been thinking, but when I moved to a blog, the posts, still short relative to other essays but longer than I could effectively post on social media, began to become a bit more complex. But I was getting up each day, making my coffee, and sitting down at my desk to work.
This is very cool, and I’ll tell you why.
For most of my life, I identified as a writer. When I was younger it was all about fiction and even then mostly bad, formulaic genre fiction that I had a whole lot of fun writing. I worked very diligently and established strong routines around it that adapted to whatever else – work, relationships, geographic location – happened to change. Because that’s what I was. I was a writer. When I finally got a novel published (don’t ask, it’s been out of print for twenty years) I was in my early thirties, and I began to think that perhaps this wasn’t going to be as successful a venture as my daydream fantasies were telling me. I really wasn’t keen on being a starving artist for the rest of my life. I wanted a proper home, a decent car, and food in the kitchen that I had actually bought myself.
You know that kid that always runs out to watch the ambulance whizz past with its flashy lights and siren? That was me. The adventure, the thought of being the one to come to the rescue and save the day appealed to me, and despite the very right-brained person I’d grown up to be, the technical science aspects of medicine fascinated me too. So, when I finally decided that maybe the time had come to get a real job, a serendipitous billboard promoting the paramedic program at Humber College prodded me in that direction. It’s not my intention to bore you with the entire story of my time in school (dean’s list with honours, thank you very much), so let’s fast-forward a bit.
Got the house, got the car, had food in the pantry and my first vacation was a month in Australia that I managed with some creative use of vacation time, accumulated lieu time, and the regularly scheduled contiguous days off we had because we worked twelve-hour shifts. I was living the dream, baby, but funny thing…I wasn’t writing. Too busy, too tired, too focused on whatever else I’m still not sure why, but after I began showing signs of post-traumatic stress the explanation came easier. One of the effects of this injury is the loss of interest in hobbies or other things you used to really enjoy doing. It’s in the literature, look it up. When I would force myself to start something creative, even a new painting on my drawing board, it would sit untouched after the first mad session. Instead, I would lose myself in online games or lay on the couch flipping through the hundreds of television channels I had at my fingertips because of the very expensive cable package I paid through the nose for.
It wasn’t happening, and it didn’t happen for the many years that followed, and I grieved its loss like I did the loss of the generally healthy and at peace person I used to be.
Hiraeth. Get it now?
Though one day I may not be, right now I am uncomfortable questioning why it seems to have come back. Obviously, I’m not writing bad, formulaic genre fiction (though I may yet, it’s still a lot of fun), and I’m not going to question the whys of that, either, but rather let whatever wants to come out, come out. Structure and routine are important as they allow forward movement along a defined path, and forward movement brings forward momentum and before you know it, it becomes harder to stop than it had been to start in the first place. What I am finding, however, is that some of these ideas I’ve been exploring are becoming more difficult to one-off in a daily blog post. Though writing each morning is not going to change (momentum), I suspect the need to make a regular daily post may. The essays are becoming longer, the thoughts and ideas a bit more involved, and the need to offer them the time they deserve to be fully realised is much more apparent.
Still, getting up every day and going to work doing something I love is very cool. When I figure out how I did that, I’ll let you know.