Paulelmo's Blog

Art as a Support System for Life

Beautiful people, if I owe any apologies for being less attentive to this blog in recent days, I offer them. I love the Stephen King quote, “Live isn’t a support system for life. It’s the other way around.” Accepting this really helped me understand that you can’t write about life if you don’t first live it.

Prior to reading those words, which appear in King’s book On Writing, 15 or so years ago, I was always so stressed about how much writing and/or work on my writing pursuits I got done in a given day. (Ironically, I had far fewer good and solidly productive days back then than I do now.) I would get so stressed if a day passed unproductively, which put such stress on the prospect of writing every day. That, of course, led to the hurdles that are often termed “writer’s block,” but which I know from experience are actually procrastination and the fear of just starting.

I think “writer’s block” is often attributed–especially by non-writers–to a lack of ideas. I don’t buy that; it’s never been the case for me at least. For me, it was always caused by this great stress and fear that I put on it all, and you can imagine the never-ending spiral that occurs when the stress of not writing leads to the stress that causes the very process of starting a fearful thing.

Then I got that quote from my old friend Stephen King, and I realized I had been living my life solely as a support system for my writing, and I needed to flip that around.

It wasn’t an easy change at first, but all these years along it comes pretty naturally. I am many things before I am a writer, and if those things pull me away from the page, that’s just going to have to be the way it is. The effect is that I write enough to not have to stress not writing.

And that’s where we’ve been lately; this is a busy and multi-faceted life we’re living up here on Dinosaur Mountain, and sometimes the writing just has to move aside for a bit. Still, I couldn’t be more pleased with this year’s progress or more confident that I’m right on track with things. You’re part of that, and I thank you for being so.

I should be getting back to things pretty full swing next Tuesday. Still, I won’t be silent here; I might just fall off from the page a day average I’ve carried for the last couple of months.

One last thought. This is for potential writers. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. I’m reminded of that just now, as I have to come up with a different title for this entry, because I never got around to talking about “Singing” at all. I’m also reminded how much better I do when I let the process dictate me, rather than the other way around.

Praying that you’re well.

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