I have always loved writing. From an early age, I wrote short stories about magical happenings and clever kids. I wrote about animals, superpowers and fantasy kingdoms. As an adolescent, I filled book after book with journallings of teenage angst and woe.
I loved reading and studying English at school. Shakespeare was fathomable and even enjoyable. I looked forward to essay writing and creative writing. When the teacher said, “Drop everything and read”, I quietly celebrated amidst the groanings of my peers. Yes, I loved reading and writing.
But as a young adult, I struggled to find time to do either one. I completed a university degree and dived headfirst into the world of the full-time professional. I discovered a whole new existence of exhaustion and time-poor living. I had become Busy.
During those early professional years, I discovered a craving for reading and writing. I found myself saying to friends, “I wish I had more time for reading.” I took books to work so I could read a couple of pages during my lunch breaks.
“I wish I had more time for reading.”
I even started writing a work of fiction, squeezing in ten minutes of mad jotting in the morning whenever I could. I remember sitting at the breakfast table, spoon in one hand, pen in the other, attempting a feat of simultaneous cereal consumption and chapter completion. It was an act of desperation.
But it didn’t last. Time and energy got away from me. As a single person, I was obligated to work full-time in order to make ends meet. I was living pay-to-pay on a professional salary; there was no way I could afford to reduce my hours. I had no leftover time for writing.
I would just have to accept it.
I figured this is how everyone lives. Everyone has to work, has to earn an income, has to sacrifice the things they love for the work they have to do. I came to believe I would either have to work full-time or pursue my creativity full-time; I could not do both. With that, I told myself to forget about writing.
I told myself to forget about writing.
The cravings did not go away. They got worse. In fact, I got an idea for writing a book about surviving singledom. I started writing it whenever I had a few spare minutes and spare millilitres of energy left. It made my heart happy. But it was slow going. I wondered if I would ever finish the book.
Then, miracle of miracles, I got married. (Thank you God.)
With two incomes, I was able to reduce my working hours. I used my time off to write. I threw myself into it. I finished the singledom book between music composition projects. I started a weekly blog. I commenced writing my second book about childlessness.
I had found my compromise: I was able to work part-time while dedicating a block of my week to creative pursuits. I was, and am, so grateful for this compromise. I had assumed that I could not do both: have my cake and eat it too. But that is exactly what I am doing now.
I had found my compromise.
I realise that not everyone has this option. I know that I am in a blessed position. I think God saw me struggling to write, so he gave me what I needed. Such compromise may not work for everybody, but it has worked for me. And every time I sit down to write, I am thankful.
Do you have a story of compromise? How do you find ways to pursue your creativity? Do you have a dedicated time or space for creating? Share your story here – let’s have a countercultural conversation.