When Compromise Works

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. 

2 thoughts on “When Compromise Works

  1. Hi Steph, I was an avid reader, lover of English and essays, wanted to be a journalist and author. Life took over. I became too ill to work, now was my chance. The writing was slow and stalled. Then I took part in “Art Therapy” reluctantly. I was a words girl, not a drawer. I enrolled in a Drawing class, swallowed my pride and just gave it a go. I could only draw a stick man. Seriously! Iearned techniques on how to draw. I started to actually enjoy the class even though I had a permanent spot at the bottom of the talent pool. I was still reading, nothing will stop my love of books, but I was now really enjoying the creative process of producing artwork and even summoned up the courage to take part in an exhibition of my class. I create every day and feel soothed and excited by my creative journey. As for my book, it is still a possibility, but I am content to let it sit quietly, letting it slowly gather energy. I also have a few other creative ideas,,,,,,,,

    • Hi Suz, I take my hat off to you for pursuing art class! Like you, I rank among the “stick figure” drawers, so I think it is brave of you to stick with it, let alone exhibit your work. I hope you continue to feed and nourish your creativity, whatever form that takes: reading, writing, drawing and an infinite number of other choices. It’s so important to let that creative energy simmer and see where it leads. I know what it’s like to be tempted by several creative projects! Thanks for sharing your story.

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