Even today, I carry on the struggle between two Seans. One Sean is intense and spends all of his time editing The Kingdom: The Quest. The other Sean is playful, lazy and loves spending time with friends and jamming out to Skrillex remixes of the Black Eyed Peas.
Can that other Sean exist if I call myself a writer? If I’m not taking every spare minute I can to devote to The Kingdom Trilogy, and to my craft in general, am I not cheating myself? Am I not showing complete devotion to what I do?
There’s a scene from Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong that illustrates what I’m thinking about. To make a long story short, a playwright is tricked into staying on board a ship with a filmmaker. While the filmmaker keeps the playwright in conversation,the captain sets sail. By the time the playwright realizes what has happened, the ship is about fifty yards away from the harbor. The next few lines of dialogue go something like this…
Filmmaker: I keep telling you, Jack, there’s no money in theater. That’s why you should stick with film.
Playwright: No Carl, it’s not about the money. I love theater.
Filmmaker: No you don’t. If you really loved it, you would’ve jumped.
Those kind of observations stick with me. All through high school, and now in college, I take time out to do other things. I lift weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I do English and Film Club. I walk into dorm rooms to say hello. I go to Daily Mass.
I joke sometimes about being a hermit writing a novel, but it’s clear that I don’t act like one. Should I be if I want to a good writer? Should I stop doing all of these other things, and cut everyone out of my life and work on my stories? It wasn’t until recently that I decided for sure that the answer is, “No.”
I want to kick myself, because I should have realized it long ago. Writers try to convey life through words. Through stories, we ultimately seek to display the human condition. How on earth can I display the human condition if I don’t experience for myself? No, I don’t want to be a slave to my art. I won’t cut out the other people in my life. How silly of me.
If you writers are nuerotic like me, and you ever feel guilty about not spending every minute on your WiP, stop. You’re experiencing life when you go out with your friends to the local coffeeshop, instead of tinkering with your latest chapter. Ultimately, you’ll have much more to write about than if you spend your whole life hunched over a laptop.
Oh, and read The Oresteia by Aeschylus sometime. It’s a trilogy of tragic plays, and they are more than worth your time. Have a wonderful weekend.