To be a writer…

In one of my top ten favorite books, Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, the main character, Jenny Waynest, often thinks of a phrase her old mentor taught her: To be a mage, you must be a mage. But unlike her mentor, who gave himself wholly over to being a mage and nothing else, Jenny struggles with balance in her life the way so many of us do: she is constantly torn between her ingrained need to perfect and increase her magic, and all the other concerns of life, especially her family, though she has done all she can to keep her love for them at arms’ length.

One reason I think this book speaks so much to me is because I know that struggle so well. It would be easy to say things like “to be a writer you must be a writer” but the practical truth is that most of us have other demands on our time and attention. We have to fight to balance our lives, and that’s a fight we’ll be having until the day we die. For me it’s the battle between the demands of my writing and art, versus things like work, friends, parents and sisters, and all the mundanity of keeping myself clothed, fed and clean.

I think most people driven by some passion feel this way, be it art, or music, or engineering, or astronomy, or whathaveyou. I sometimes think I will never love another human being as much as I will love art and writing. Which is not true, of course, I love my parents and sisters and friends beyond words, but in the moment of writing a scene that just pours from your fingertips, or drawing something that seems to leap from your pencil fully-formed… There’s no describing that feeling. It’s euphoric. Addictive. So intense as to be beyond words. Physical pleasure seems shallow in that moment, and the rest of the world falls away, greyed back by the vibrancy of your vision.

I suppose that is why I keep coming back.

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