What Cost?

I’m the kind of guy who cannot go to sleep if I feel I haven’t accomplished enough in a day.  Sometimes, I wish there were twenty-six hours in the day, so I could actually get eight hours of sleep.  Even then, though, I’d probably squander the extra hours doing extra things, such as writing on my blog like I’m doing right now.

I should be in bed now, asleep, but I’m not.  I’m communicating with my readers, trying to come up with something pithy and worthwhile for them to read.

So what am I listening to now, while I write?  I’m listening to film composer James Newton Howard’s soundtrack to the film “Hidalgo”.  Howard is an amazing composer.  “Hidalgo” is about a man and a horse who in the 1890s travel from the American West to Arabia to ride tin he greatest of all races.  However, what’s amazing about Howard is that he could also compose such spooky music as he did for “The Happening”, where people just start dying in a plague that defies all science and logic.

Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing if we, as writers, could go from a beautiful story like “Hidalgo” to such a spooky thriller like “The Happening” just like that, with maybe the snap of your fingers?

Ray Bradbury could such amazing stories.  He wrote horror stories, like “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, science fiction stories like “The Martian Chronicles”, coming of age stories like “Dandelion Wine” and even murder mysteries like “Let’s All Kill Constance”.  He, too, was an amazing writer.

But he had some of the problems that I also face.  Such as when he started writing the first draft to “Fahrenheit 451.”  He had an office in his garage.  But his daughters called to him to come out an play with them.  And being such a man of great imagination, with a youthfulness and joy of living, and a love for his daughters, he couldn’t help but go out and play with them.  Eventually, to get any work down, he went downtown to the Los Angeles City Library and rented a space in the basement from which to do his writing.

Now, my daughters are grown and gone.  But when the sun comes out after nearly two weeks of rain, I want to mow the lawn, I want to rake leaves, I want to enjoy doing something in the sun.  Too my little girls aren’t little anymore.  We could have such fun throwing leaves at each other.

And then there’s my dad.  He will be one hundred years old in just four weeks.  He’s not just my dad, he’s my friend, maybe even one of my best friends.  Oh, yes, you can have more than just one best friend.  I want  spend more time with him.  Besides, he’s my only parent left.  All my grandparents and most of my aunts and uncles are gone.

But while I’m visiting with him, if it’s raining out, it’s great.  We an spend the whole afternoon together.  He’s still a sharp guy and still capable of getting out and doing things.  But if the sun comes out, I want to get out and tend to his vegetable garden, or mow his lawn (but only after cleaning up all the little land mines his dogs leave about), or stick fertilizer stakes into the ground around his fruit trees.

I want to be with him, but I also want to help him.  I do all that extra work for him, because I love him.  I did it for both my mom and my dad when my mom was alive.  But she left us last year.  So, now I do it just for him.

So that’s days when I’m not writing a blog or writing novels.

Everyday, I want to write.  It’s among my first thoughts in the morning and among my last thoughts at night.  But life gets in the way.  It always does.

Years ago, when my daughters were younger, I’d spend hours in the evening at my work space, or later, in my office, writing.  So my wife and daughters watched films and TV shows I would’ve liked to have seen with them, but never have seen at all.  They grew closer together while I was away working on things that mattered to me and to my future readers, but ignored the things that mattered to them.

Still, my wife and daughters and I are close and we love each other.  I’m not complaining about missed opportunities, either.  I’m just saying that there’s a cost to everything we do.  There was a cost for Ray Bradbury.  There’s a cost for every writer, every reporter, every artist.

Some ten thousand novels are completed every week in the United States.  That’s ten thousand written novels.  How many of those novels get published, even self-published?  And how many of them are good?  And how many people give up, after weighing the cost of writing versus living?  There are no real statistics on that.

And does it matter?  Those of us who keep writing do it for a variety of reasons.  But the biggest and most important reason is, because we love writing.

My father’s greatest gift to me is to find something you love to do and then do it the rest of your life.

I love writing.  And I love life, too.  So, writing and living are what I want to do all my life.  And loving  my family and friends, too.

See You Out There!

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