The Six-Gun Syndrome

Hey Fierce Friends!
Sorry I missed you last week, but I was still recuperating from doing the rewrites for HIGHLAND REBEL (out in March 2009). I pulled a marathon writing schedule to get them done in a WEEK! A record even for me! :) For those of you who were pulling for me and sent emails encouraging me, I really appreciate it!

So today I thought I'd share something personal about my experience as a writer. Back in the day, when I dreamed of being a published author and wrote, wrote, wrote, every extra minute I could squeeze out of the day, in between raising three kids and all that goes with that, I also used to love to watch old reruns of the Dick Van Dyke show. There was one episode in particular that was one of my favorites. In it, Rob Petrie had decided he was going to finish the novel he'd been writing on and off for years and years. So he secluded himself in a cabin owned by his boss, Alan Brady, so he could have complete peace and quiet to work. But instead of writing on his novel, Rob ended up finding every reason in the world NOT to write! His chair was too low, the table was too high, he didn't have a wastebasket (so he built one) , he was lonely, and the best one of all -- he had to play with a pair of sixguns Alan had left hanging on the wall! Rob strapped on the holster and put on a cowboy hat and practiced his quick draw!

As my husband and I watched thw show, he laughed and said, "From now on, if I see you procrastinating, I'm going to tell you to quit playing with your sixguns!" I laughed too, but I couldn't imagine wasting any precious moment of time that I had to write by simply messing around!! I used to sit up all night just to have writing time.

The years passed and unlike Rob Petrie I did finish my novel, and wonders of wonders, sold it!
I did pretty good avoiding the Six-Gun Syndrome until I had written my fourth book, Highland Dream, while going through radiation therapy for breast cancer. After that, I admit, things changed for me as a writer. Life suddenly didn't seem to be the same endless road ahead of me, but one that could be cut short, and I had to reevaluated things. It was then that I began to - gasp - procrastinate in my writing. Instead of grabbing every minute I could to write, I would find myself cruising through the HGTV shows I had Tivo'd. Instead of jotting down character ideas, I would go online to play Bomberman with Player 23143. Instead of working on a new proposal, I made a teeny tiny cake out of foam for my granddaughter's dollhouse.

I wish I could say that I eventually made a new resolution to stop wasting time, but the truth is, gentle reader, that I haven't and I don't consider it time wasted. You see, Life has drifted in on little cat feet, or maybe big ol' lion paws, and I don't think I'll ever be the same. I don't have the same single-mindedness that I once had, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, because life is short and I don't want to miss precious moments with my granddaughter or my children or my husband. My oldest son is working nights and sleeps all day, so on his day off we often sit up late at night and watch TV together. I should be writing, but in another few months he'll be moving out and having his own life, and how I will miss him! These wonderful moments of laughter and joy will never come again, just as the times with my three-year-old granddaughter will soon disappear, never to return.

So should I quit writing because I also want to live Life? Well, the problem is, writing is Life too. True, I don't have the same fervent focus I once had, but that doesn't mean I don't still love to create stories and plots and characters and weave them together, challenging myself anew with each new book. So, it's a balance, and right now, I admit, the balance is a little skewed. Life (besides writing) is tilting the scale right now, but eventually things will even out and I'll start a new book and lose myself for awhile in that magical world that has been and probably always will be part of what makes me the person I am, and makes up an important part of Life As I Know It.

But now I know that there will always be six-guns hanging on the wall, and from time to time, I'll take them down and strap them on and I won't feel guilty in the least. : )

KEEP WRITING! (but don't forget your six-guns!)


Vonda Sinclair said...

Oh, what a touching post, Tess! I'm so sorry life has flung some bad stuff your way. But it's wonderful to hear you're enjoying the little (important) things.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Vonda. God is good. Life is beautiful. :)

Carol Ericson said...

Tess, you're so right (and I love Rob Petrie!). My husband often complains about our messy house, and I don't really blame him. I like a clean house too! It's just that on the weekends, I'd much rather be out watching my boys play soccer. I try to tell my husband that the boys will remember much more fondly Mom screaming and yelling at their soccer games than they will recall a clean house. After my husband's recent angioplasty, I hope he's getting that message. And to help matters, I'm going to hire someone to come in and clean the house a few times a month!

Anonymous said...

You go girl! Your kids will remember their mom cheering them on, not putting Cheer in the washer! ha! Thanks so much!