Flexibility and the willingness to forgive yourself

19 Dec

I started this blog a month or more ago with the intention of posting frequently.  At the same time, I began drafting a new novel.

In order to get anything done artistically, you have to be hard on yourself.  Ruthless, even.  You have to lay out expectations for yourself: expectations about volume of output and quality of output.  And you have to assiduously hold yourself to those expectations.

At the same time, too rigid an approach can be self-defeating.  Unless you are willing to deal with your own human frailties and the impingements of the non-creative part of your life (which in my case makes up about 95% of that life), you can end up collapsing under the strain of trying to create and have a life at the same time.

A couple of weeks into my blogging and drafting, I became overwhelmed with school work (I am a teacher, and have confessed to being so elsewhere on this website).  I tried for a few days to keep up with the demands of teaching all day, marking essays for three to six hours a day, working for an hour in the morning on my novel, and putting in fifteen minutes of writing and another fifteen on reworking blog posts and other blog management tasks.

Soon I was ragged: grouchy beyond my daily norm, and drooping into a semi-coma by mid-afternoon.

I had to face it:  I could not continue.  With tremendous regret and with self-recrimination, I put aside the blogging and the creative work for a couple of weeks.  I felt terrible doing so.  I know from long experience that letting the demands of daily life become an excuse for not doing creative work can become a way to a life of misery and excuses.  And had I not learned over the years to be flexible, I might now have already given up on myself.  It would be easy after two weeks to just let my output drop off, to give up the goals I’d set for myself, and to wait for the summer to regroup.

But we humans are frail.  And finding strength, ironically, involves facing that frailty head-on and being willing to forgive ourselves for it.  There is no other way to move forward.

So I hereby forgive myself for the two weeks I gave in to exhaustion.  I’m back at the blog now.  Tomorrow morning I’m back to the novel manuscript.



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