I don’t really bake cookies with Neil in this post. I’d like to. But I didn’t – I just liked the title. (Neil, if you’d like to bake cookies with me, or would like me to send you some cookies, just tell me your favorite kind and you’ve got it.)
I spent most of this weekend in my pajamas. Yesterday, I finally got up, got dressed, and ran errands with Ash in town, but as soon as we were home, I was back in my PJs. (Honestly, I think if more people spent weekends in their PJs, we’d be a happier humanity.) Despite the happy PJ time, my spirits were low.
In fact, I’ve been moping for the past few hours about Things That Suck when, out of nowhere, while reading Mr. Neil Gaiman’s Magical Tumblr, I felt this brilliant moment of clarity, as if a breeze had blown the clouds across the sky and a bright star (or possibly Venus) had suddenly winked into existence and brought with it a shining, glorious epiphany. An epiphany that lit up my mind and the night like a million fireflies and then. And then. Well. Then it blinked out. Just as quickly. Unfortunately I wasn’t really able to decipher what the epiphany as a whole was about, but I could see, just around the edges, words. And THAT meant something to me.
You see, ever since I was laid off in April, I have been slowly (and quickly), embracing many of my old hobbies. Things that at one point in my life, made me ME. Painting is one of them. I’ve been painting and drawing and sketching again and it’s ALL I ever want to do anymore. Oh I’ve missed it. I’ve also been baking. Cookies, brownies, yummy little chocolate chip bars oozing with caramel, goodies that will clog your pores and leave you guzzling milk from the carton. And I’ve been gardening. We have fourteen happy little okra plants in the front yard and a brand new garden bed in the back ready for planting. I’ve been playing video games, catching up on cooking shows, hanging out with Ash. So many wonderful things to bring me back to ME, but I have yet to do what I spent five years of college doing in order to get my Creative Writing degree.
I’m constantly jealous of my friend Meg of Bow Ties are Cool because all she does is write. She writes and writes and writes about writing and she’s wonderful at it and I wish I had her dedication and enthusiasm. But why don’t I? Why is that I sit here and wish it but don’t do it? What’s stopping me?
And it’s that NOTHING that came to me while reading Neil’s many insightful responses to people asking him writing advice all the time. (Was that the epiphany? Maybe…) Neither him nor Meg ask for permission from anyone to write. They just do it. I’ve been sitting here waiting for someone to tell me that it’s okay to just sit and write. My fear is in the sitting part I think. I hate just sitting because I’m scared that it will look like I’m not doing anything. Like I’m just sitting. Staring at paper. Or a blank computer screen. And don’t ask me why I feel that doing design and development work is different – it just is. It’s for other people, at least that work. Even painting is for others – it’s for my shop. But writing? It’s not for anyone but myself. Even blogging is for the most part. It’s writing for myself, my thoughts, my beliefs, my stories. So it gets pushed away. Even as I write this, it has taken two days to write because I feel guilty writing it and keep stopping to do something else.
So how do writers stop feeling guilty for doing something that’s mostly for themselves? How do you get over your fear that people will think you aren’t a proper, productive member of society if you just write?
In school, I had classes that I was SUPPOSED to write in. And it made me happy. I was supposed to do it. Nobody could stop me, so I let myself just sit and write and the world was good and I was happy because I was MAKING THINGS UP and that was my JOB. Now? Not so much. So despite all the activities I’m doing to be ME, I’m still not entirely ME. Does this make sense? See, now I’m just writing to write. Because I like it. Blah blah blah I’m writing and nobody is in the room to stop me. Blah. WRITING.
Alright. So there’s my question. And there are my thoughts. All written down nicely for you. Now, I’m feeling guilty and unproductive so I’m going to go bake. Cookies. For Neil. Or Meg. Or for my girlfriend because she would probably be the one most likely to eat them considering she’s the only one in Texas. Go me.
6 thoughts on “In Which There is an Epiphany and I Bake Cookies with Neil Gaiman”
Oh man, I’ve gotta be honest Nikki — I feel like a total badass for being lumped together with Neil Gaiman in this post. No complaints there. That said, I think the guilt thing is something you may have to deal with on your own; I’m not sure how I don’t feel unproductive when I write! I mean to be fair I do usually spend my time in bed, on my ass, not moving, so when I write I actually feel like I’m doing something useful with my time. It is really really difficult to get into the habit of writing though, or so I’ve found. Really difficult. It’s one of those things where I’ve only recently been able to write without feeling like I’m forcing myself at first. Opening up that word document and typing the first few words is the hardest part. And maybe that’s holding you up as well? I don’t know! But I think, if you just FORCE yourself to get past that guilt, and just remind yourself that writing is just as productive (yet not as tasty) as baking, and write a little bit each day, pretty soon it will become natural. It’ll be a habit. You can do it, Nikki! If anything just tell yourself you’re going to write for an hour every day. Then if that doesn’t feel like enough, two or three or more hours. That way you won’t feel like you’re spending your entire day writing, and the more you do it, I’m pretty sure the less guilty you’ll feel. Anyway sorry for the huge tl;dr but you know how I feel about writing! I had to comment. 😉
*lol* Meg. You ARE a total badass, so there.
Agh. I feel like I go in little batches of writing. When I do write – I do it all at once. Like write a ton of emails followed by writing like 8 blog posts and then I’m done. And none of it was really for me. Blah.
Thanks though – it helps to hear from you – I hold you in very high esteem when it comes to writing since it’s what you do and will do for a living. 🙂 Love you!
Nikki. I love you. What Wonderful Writing.
Thanks Mom. 🙂
Someone recently said to me: I want to hear that it’s OK for me to write; and it doesn’t HAVE to be a book to build my PLATFORM. I GET to have my stories and poems and general rantings and …”
So I said: “It’s OK to write, it doesn’t have to be a book, and you get to have your stories, poems and rants.” 😉
I know you weren’t quite saying “I want to hear that it’s OK,” and still, I want to tell you: not only is it OK, it’s AWESOME. (and probably necessary.)
Your writing is funny and honest and insightful, and it’s a treat to read. If what you write wants to be a journal or a book or a blog, it will be. Bottom line: you want to write, so you must. 🙂 If it’s “not productive”? Oh well … there’s a little less time for some of those other non-productive things we all do.
And though I don’t know you (save our recent introduction), I somehow feel like I do a little from your writing. And that’s pretty damn cool. Methinks would be a laarge bummah if you didn’t give this just a *bit* of your attention (even a few minutes a day, or a couple times a week to get yourself in the practice) (and do it to show that evil “this is not productive” voice that it IS productive and it is GOOD …) A-fargin-men.
(oh, and i recently started a weekly writing play-date on me blog; if outside inspiration might help, it would be fab to have you play.) 🙂
Thanks so much for this comment, Deb. It helps to hear from others that it IS okay to just sit and write, even if it’s not exactly what I “should” be doing at the time. The urge to write is fleeting and I need to recognize it so that I can grasp it and and not let it go. Writing is GOOD, no matter what it is. 😀 Thanks for the reminder.
I will have to check out your writing play-date!