Am I Having a Mid-Life Crisis?

Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing now is what you’re really what you’re supposed to be doing?

I have been working on a screenplay…sort of. I’ve concepted and listened to tons of podcasts on TV and movie writing, and read books on screenwriting and book writing. They’re all very inspiring. Yet, my wheels just spin as I sink deeper into confusion.

I have been pursuing writing for so long, or at least, thinking about it since I graduated from college. That’s about 15 years. It hasn’t always been about screenplays, but “bigger” pieces of writing, like a book. But I still don’t think I’ve come away with anything any longer than that last sociology paper I was forced to write back in ’99.

Lately I have started to question my “pursuit” of writing. Why do I want to write? Well, first of all, it sounds cool to be a writer, no? But one does not have to be a novelist or slave over a screenplay to be a writer! I am already a writer. I’m a working writer who snaps up projects as they come to her: a newsletter article here, website content there, retail packaging day in and day out, a TV ad, etc. And what’s so wrong with this?

Well, it’s not very sexy in the way that being a novelist or a screenwriter is. But who cares? Me? Who am I trying to impress? Myself?

I don’t know.

What would it be like to just live as I am now with what I do now, and not be constantly striving to be and do more? Is that okay? Am I allowed to do that? Am I enough just as I am at this very moment? A mom of 1. A wife. A part-time copywriter. A small-time blogger. A full-time fitness junkie. A reader. A runner. A dog-lover. Can I live with that?

But I thought life was about growing and improving yourself? Was I wrong? Maybe it’s just about appreciating what you have?

But if I hadn’t worked for what I have, then would I even have it? That goes for my loving relationship with my husband (we’re not perfect, but we always love each other), my son (the road to pregnancy was bumpy), my health (I literally had a lot to lose), etc. What if I hadn’t worked for those things? Certainly, they would not have dropped out of the sky and into my lap.

Okay, so maybe part of life is appreciating what you have, and the other part is striving to improve on yourself? Maybe it’s half and half. I definitely don’t think life is about one thing as Curly says it is in City Slickers.

But to strive for something in life, to set aside all the other things and really focus on something else…well, you really have to want whatever it is to do that.

Unfortunately, I am doubting how much I really want to write a book or a screenplay. I just always thought I would do one of these things. It seemed like a natural step. I’m a writer. I love to write! And I love to read. And I love to watch movies. It just seems like that’s what I should do.

But writing a book or a movie are a lot like running a marathon. You have to train for it for a long time, and you have to focus on just that one race. That one outcome. Can a scatterbrain like me do that?

In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, he writes that focus and endurance are the two most important qualities to have to be a novelist. “If you concentrate on writing three or four hours a day and feel tired after a week of this, you’re not going to be able to write a long work.”

Lately, I haven’t been able to eek out more than 30-45 minutes per day to write. But I KNOW (from running) that if I want something bad enough, I will make time for it. You can’t run a marathon without doing that.

And even still when I do sit down to write, I never want to write about the same thing. I much prefer write about a funny story that happened to me in my life. That is something I can do in that short amount of time because I already know what happens in the story. I don’t have to think it up.

I don’t know if I have the patience or focus needed for writing big pieces of work like a novel or a screenplay. And I don’t know if I want it enough to “train” for it like the way I trained in order to transform myself in to a runner.

Everything you just read happened before bedtime last night. But once my son had gone to sleep and my husband was in another room and the dogs were settled down, it was quiet and I could actually think about it all.

The thought of letting go of writing a book…or whatever…made me very sad. Like I would be losing a part of myself. I cried quietly for a few minutes, but then gave myself some tough talk: Snap out of it. Nobody is doing this to you. If you choose not to write, then it is your decision. Nothing is being taken away from you. Is your life so bad? No. Knock it off.

I stopped crying. For me, sometimes crying helps. I wasn’t all about feeling bad for myself. The tears were little drops of confusion leaving my brain. Suddenly, things became more clear.

I just needed to figure out what to write. Maybe I don’t have a fiction novel in me. Or a screenplay.

When I sit down at my laptop with WordPress open, my fingers fly across the keyboard. Minutes tick by without me even knowing it as I write and rewrite here about what’s going on in my life. And then I send it out to you so we can connect on some level.

That’s what I think is fun. Why should I try to write something that feels like torture? Maybe I’m too self-absorbed to write fiction. I just don’t care about those characters enough. They’re not real. I care about real people and their real stories. Mine included.

That’s probably why blogging is so addictive. But my blog is subject-specific (even though I’m torturing you with my writing woes…again), and so it feels too confining. I will have to find another outlet for all the other stories I want to share.

I decided I’m going to keep trying for that book…or whatever…because I know I’m supposed to be a writer. I am a writer. I’m sure this is what I’m supposed to do.

Crisis averted. Everyone as they were.

Making (Good/Some/Any) Time

Listen, I am over here trying to make time to write. Thirty minutes one day, 22 minutes the next, eight minutes before work. F*cking eight. I can barely write a Tweet in that time! Even 30 minutes is pushing it if I want to write something that doesn’t resemble a piece of crap.

Part of the problem is that I work in an office. Like a real job. Even though it’s “only” part-time, I still have to get up at a specific time (newborn baby early) and I still have to go to sleep at a certain hour (grandparents’ bedtime) four days a week.

And I work out…because I don’t want to feel or look like those amoebas in a Gary Larson comic.

Or, on second thought actually, any character in a Gary Larson comic:

And I’m also a mom. And a wife. And I’m the person who does the dishes and the laundry 95% of the time. And I’m also the person who takes the 5 year old to practice and lessons and doctor appointments. I volunteer in his class. Really, all the same things most moms do. So, you know, it’s a lot of…stuff that’s the opposite of what I’d rather be doing.

Mostly, what I’m at odds with is the writing and the exercising. First, they are mutually exclusive. One requires I move my arms and legs around. The other is me just sitting on my ass. Second, I really only have time for one of them, and one of them (I think you know which one) is more appealing than the other.

It’s classic Three’s Company. Let’s pretend I’m Jack. Exercising is Chrissy. And writing is Janet, who just got left behind on a hideous orange and brown sofa.

A Twitter friend suggested I read Haruki Murakami’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I like it, but I’m not very encouraged so far since–spoiler alert–he quits his business so he can devote his days to writing full time. And also this is 30 years ago.

And also that’s not an option for me.

But I’ll keep reading. Not that I have time to.

Top 5 Reasons Why I Suck at Blogging

1. I’m not getting paid for this shit. And as a writer, that means I’m out at least 25 cents per post. I need every little bit I can get. How else will I build my Starbucks City Series coffee cup collection? And you guys. I recently chipped Portland, so now I need to get another one.

#nofilter
#nofilter

2. I want to use my talents to contribute something meaningful to the world. Take, for example, my ability to recall movie quotes in everyday life. This morning, I exchanged quotes from The Big Lebowski with authors Jennifer Weiner and Mark Matthews on Twitter. For reals, guys. People should know lines from that movie.

3. When I manage to find 30 minutes all together, I’m usually pumping some iron and watching Fashion Police. I think I finally perfected the dead lift. Incidentally, I heard that’s the name of the procedure Joan Rivers just had done to her face.

4. I’ve changed. Well, I it’s not like I went in for surgery and come out a man or anything. My focus has shifted from running/blogging to other things. I’m still running or working out usually 5-6 days a week, but it’s not very interesting. Unless…you count the time I locked my family in the room with me and ran on the treadmill 15 minutes after eating tacos. Now, that was hilarious!

5. I sit and write for several hours at work about how you should learn Italian or French. And try to make retail packaging for train videos interesting. And to get people to buy Nazi movies. When I get home, all I want to do is work on my writing goals for ME. Actually, that’s a lie. All I really want to do is eat candy.