I had this thought earlier today…would I ever give up writing fiction, or writing in general?
I wondered what it would take for me to put down the metaphorical pen and just…stop. No more creating characters, writing dialogue, or plotting. What would prompt me to abandon something that I’ve been doing for most of my life?
I tried to imagine what it would be like to not have to work on a draft. It wouldn’t be nagging at the back of my brain throughout the day. I wouldn’t lay in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering how to end a scene. I wouldn’t have any self-imposed deadlines or goals to meet.
I could wake up every morning and take my time. No more rushing to get ready for work so I have a few minutes to write. No more closing my office door at lunch so I can squeeze in twenty minutes of writing time. No more staying up late or getting up extra early so I can have a quiet house to work in.
I’d have more time to spend with my partner and my dogs. I’d probably finish a couple of those long-standing projects around the house. I wouldn’t be neglecting my vegetables in the back yard. Nor the potted herbs that have started to run wild.
Oh, and I’d be able to catch up on all the movies and other entertainment that I’ve been missing. I wouldn’t get stuck in conversations with people about the latest Netflix release and not have a clue as to what they’re talking about. And trying to avoid spoilers.
Then I had to wonder, what would I be giving up if I stopped writing?
No more imagination. At least, not the way I use it now. No more creating worlds, people, and creatures. No more losing myself in a narrative, thinking of all the wonderful possibilities, or wondering “what if?”.
I wouldn’t have to feel the excitement of having a new idea for a story, or the thrill of figuring out what to do next, or coming up with that perfect ending.
I also wouldn’t have to deal with the satisfaction of completing a story and writing “the end” on the last page, or of seeing my work for sale online. I’d never hear anyone tell me they liked something I wrote, or thank me for making them laugh or feel emotional.
Of course, it’s not like I can shut off my mind, so I’d have all these ideas swirling around in there and I wouldn’t do anything with them. It would be like continuously stocking the pantry when it’s already full. I think my brain would be overwhelmed and begin to misfire.
While all the free time would be nice, spending it with the people and pets that I adore, would I really be happy? Would my life still be fulfilling, have meaning? I don’t think it would. At least, not as much as it does now. There’d be a hole in it, a spot where my writing time resided. I’d always feel as if I should be doing something else.
Don’t get me wrong, I my partner, my pets, my friends, they all give my life meaning and purpose. They keep me grounded, make me laugh, make me feel loved. But the ability to create adds another layer to everything. I honestly don’t think I could ever not write.
Besides, are movies and other shows really that important to me? Will watching them give my life more meaning? Probably not. Would my partner love me more if I had more time to spend with her? Probably not (she spends a lot of her free time reading, so I’d probably just be interrupting her). My dogs? Well, they’re happy with any attention I give them, and I always spend time with them after a writing session. They don’t give me much choice in the matter.
My partner has told me in the past that she can tell when I haven’t been writing. I’m irritable, easily annoyed by stupid things. If I stopped writing I’d probably be insufferable. Or more so. Depends on when you ask her. I wouldn’t be able to express myself and my ideas. To me, that’s a quick trip to crazy town.
As a thought experiment, it’s interesting to think about what my life would be like if I were to make a change. In this case, setting aside my creativity. I don’t think it’d be good for my mental health. Or my relationships. The safe thing to do is continue writing and exploring my creative interests. In the end, I think that’ll keep everyone happy and sane.