Friday, January 10, 2014

An Ordinary Day

About forty years ago, there was a Dear Abby column that I think about from time to time. It made that big an impression on me. The letter appealing for advice went something like this:

Dear Abby,

I have a loving husband and four wonderful children. We are very secure financially and I have a number of friends. I enjoy hobbies and am basically happy with my life. Yet I feel discontented, like something is missing from my life. What do you think it is?

Abby's response was "trouble, lady. Real trouble. And it's coming your way."

That was a true and righteous answer, but one that would not be given now. I suspect the reader would be urged to get treatment for a mild depression, and get counseling to explore latent issues. But through the years, I've found the prediction that trouble lurks is too all true.

It's the way life works.

Through the years, I've learned to appreciate the glorious luxury of an ordinary day. What a precious gift! I no longer take that kind of day for granted. On an ordinary day, I wake up when the alarm goes off (or before) feeling well-rested and looking forward to my writing. I don't have to flog myself to exercise. It's easy to tidy my house because I tended to chores the night before.

I virtuously resist the temptation to open my email until the afternoon when I've completed my quota of pages. Lunch is a snap because I shopped when it made sense and brought all the right food. It's easy to deal with marketing and promotional duties and have time left over for research reading, which of course, includes the latest best-selling mysteries.

This is a rather undemanding approach to life. And yes, I understand the reader's discontent with the lack of excitement. I understand, but by now I've learned things can change in a heartbeat. Please know that I'm not plagued by free-floating anxiety or apprehension. It's simply a fact. Things change.

My husband and I had older parents. We started our marriage with "old-folks" health problems to deal with. We had three daughters who were in every activity invented. At-home-days were rare and treasured, but I learned to write anywhere and at any time.

Last year, I wasn't plagued by the allergy reactions I dealt with two years ago. My adult children and their spouses had great years on their jobs. My college age grandkids love their schools. No illnesses, no lost jobs, no shocks. It was great. I attended conferences, finished my third mystery, made new friends, and indulged my hobbies.

When beginning writers say they think they are going to freak out if they don't go out and do something more interesting, I worry that they are sabotaging their talent. Not everyone is temperamentally suited for the writing life. It's isolated and technically rather dull. The life I've chosen is hard to protect. The isolation required for creativity is illusive.

Wishing you all a year of  ordinary days, the good sense to appreciate them when they happen, and the courage to face changes.

3 comments:

Victoria Reeve said...

Sage advice, well worth sharing - and I just discovered the Twitter and FB share options (it takes me a while sometimes).

Charlotte Hinger said...

Victoria--thanks for the comment. I wonder if this realization came as I grew older?

runescapeworld said...

I recently found the Twitter and FB share choices (it requires me a when often).
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