No, You CANNOT Always Be Writing

As you may know, it has been an unfortunately eventful few days:

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“He walked down through narrow, winding streets to the edge of the Seine again, and there he saw, close above him, the soft, vast towers of Notre Dame. He crossed one of the bridges and stood a moment in the empty place before the great cathedral; then he went in beneath the grossly-imaged portals. He wandered some distance up the nave and sat down in the splendid dimness. He sat a long time; he heard far-away bells chiming off, at long intervals, to the rest of the world.” . – from Henry James, ‘The American’ (1877): one of my favorite novels. . Photo – familiar already to some of you – taken by me, France, 1991. . #NotreDame #travel #Paris #literature #books #bookstagram #quotes #history #writers #writing #fiction #romance #tourism #expats #expatlife #France #authors #authorsofinstagram #writersofinstagram #photo #flags #throwbackpic

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The 900 year old Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris…

…barely survived a major fire.

But it did survive. The devastated roof and spire, which were only about two centuries old, will be rebuilt.

Then there are our mundane individual lives, which hopefully are not as “eventful” in such a sense. Nevertheless, life always goes on:

[View of the rear of our new house, Potton, England. Photo by me, 2019.]

Naturally, working on the new manuscript has taken a back seat to our unpacking from our house move of late last week…

To unwind when I’m not opening boxes, drilling into walls, moving furniture, or lugging various stuff around between rooms, among other things I have been reading your blogs as usual. I have also been dipping into social media: Instagram mostly (as you see above).

And I have again seen it from a writer I follow on Instagram (I won’t here say whom): A writer never has a day off.

Sigh. I see some form of that nonsense pushed regularly on social media. Relatedly, there are those writing “help” memes we stumble across. One example:

And another:

Yet the same site also notes this?:

Make up your mind, please? However, it is that just above that is the most realistic. I will always push back against the notion of “always writing” because we ALL need to take time away from our work, whatever it is. Indeed whenever I see another “you should always be writing” meme, I have to suppress a desire to post a negative comment; not wanting to make author enemies, I usually just scroll by and shake my head.

Instead I post my own opinion here in my own space, or perhaps on my own Instagram.

I always think when I see such a meme or assertion: “If you actually do believe that rubbish, you’ll learn that you can’t do it. I have.” Moreover I don’t actually believe anyone who claims they are “always writing”… because always doing ANYTHING is simply impossible. Seeing anyone pushing that notion especially at unsuspecting new authors sounds to me a lot like “presentism” – making oneself seen in the office and appearing to be busy so those who “leave at 5 pm” think that person is “way busier” than “5 pm leavers” must be.

My dad once said to me that shortly after he had started working construction (in New York in the 1960s) in his early twenties, an older colleague had told him that if he wanted an unauthorized break he should do this: hold out a ruler and look up as if you are about to measure something. If you are seen doing that by the boss, the man had explained, you must be doing *something,* right?

[Before (left) and yesterday (right). The office: organizing continues. Photos by me, 2019.]

So our moving chaos has forced on me a writing slow down and even a halt. But I have felt that to be refreshing too. In a sense it has been a “forced” holiday.

If a writer tries never to take some time off, you will go nuts. No one can ALWAYS be working and don’t ever let anyone even imply to you otherwise. That is why every job allows for some holiday/vacation time: we all need a getaway.

Yet all of that said, that doesn’t mean that you should deliberately not write if you are able to do so and ideas pop to your mind. If you can and want to write, fine. In fact over the last week or so, lacking my office desk I have taken to tapping out this and that with my Microsoft Surface propped up in my lap as I sit on the lounge sofa:

Sneak peek from Tomorrow The Grace. Click to expand.

So to recap:

1) You cannot write all the time, and don’t believe anyone telling you that you should be doing so.

2) You don’t have to be hunched over a desk and “officially” writing… in order to write.

Just some thoughts. Now, back to more unpacking. Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂

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