Most writers understand that some times it is hard to write. Most writers also understand that other times it is hard to be a writer.
I have a third problem--for me, it is hard to stick to being a writer.
This morning I received an email from WWF, thanking me for my December donation and encouraging me to see all the progress they made with the tigers last year.
Somehow, this simple email completely sidetracked me. One minute I was turning on Pandora, settling down to do my morning pages and do that last email check just for my piece of mind--and BAM! The next thing I know I am looking up degree programs in ecology and wondering how long it would take me to get qualified for a conservation job!
That's a helluva derailment. And I'm ashamed to admit it happens ALL the time.
For someone who can easily say "I am a writer", I sure as hell try to not be.
Part of this is simply because I love so many things. I care deeply about the environment, animals, ecology, sustainability, children, human rights, education, libraries, books, art, music, languages, travel, communication, poetry and so on. The fact I love so many different things often means I want to be an ecologist one week (thoroughly romanticized by the vision of myself in khakis and boots, binoculars raised as I look out over the land, cheetahs running in the distance) and the next week, I see myself a Lara Croft-esque gunslinger taking down sex trafficking rings. (I believe it is pretty clear that I have an active fantasy life).
But as romanticized as my fantasies are (because let's be honest, Africa is hot as Hell and has HUGE bugs and those cheetahs will certainly want to tear off my leg and EAT IT), here is the reality:
I am a writer.
I'm also a teacher, but mostly, I am a writer. Does that mean I should let go of all my other passions?
No, not necessarily. Good writers have wide and varied interests that inform their writing. My wide range of reading and passions make me better at world building, characterization, and emotional intelligence--all key elements to a good story.) By taking in so much of the world, I am able to better portray it, or something like it.
But is there a way to use my writing, to stick to my ticket, AND do something about all the other issues I care deeply about?
I hope so. I haven't figured that part out yet, but I really, really hope so.
After all, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass impacted slavery. Upton Sinclair forced the government to care more about food safety. Darwin's On the Origin of Species set us on the path of evolution--this says nothing of Plato, or Shakespeare, or J.K. Rowling--all of whom has made the world what it is today. How many people know the word Hogwarts, which began simply as an idea in a woman's head?
So I think the lesson here is to be exactly what I am--a writer. And keep my eyes open for all the ways I, a writer, can make the world a better place.