Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Spark

How is it that now, with my work and home life busier than ever, I can sit down to write? I never could before and I didn't have anywhere near as many commitments as I do now.

I think I came to the realisation that I had spent far too long wasting time. I had wasted time in the wrong jobs for many years. I had wasted time by watching too much television. I had wasted time on chat forums and surfing the web for pointless things. It was time to do something about it.

Fortunately, I have a day job that is quite demanding and provides me with a lot of focus and intellectual challenges. It involves interacting with people to a great extent, which is something I enjoy. I am allowed to take responsibility for projects and I have the opportunity to attend training courses and develop my professional skills. I also have the most supportive manager I could wish for. I could not say any of those things about any of my previous jobs and that is why my CV, up to a few years ago, reads like a printout from a job title generating spambot. So I am happy to stay in my current position. It's good for the creative drive, too. Sometimes, I arrive home worn out but still with the urge to write.

Did I really need the telly? No. I've never been into Stephen King's fiction but his advice not to watch TV (in "On Writing", his excellent book on the craft, which I enjoyed very much) was bang on. We have a TV but only use it for watching DVDs. Fortunately, my partner isn't bothered about TV either.

Same with surfing the web. There is only so much out there that you can read before your mind becomes saturated with pictures of animals doing funny things and bile-filled quotes from comment thread after comment thread on some badly written article on the online version of a tabloid paper you hate anyway. As for Facebook, I hardly spend any time on there now. If I want to know what my friends are up to, I'll text them, have a chat with them or go and see them.

Prioritizing things in my life was the next, natural step once I had identified what to change or dispense with. I love running and had seriously considered the idea of running a half marathon at the end of March and a full marathon at the end of May. I was unwell for much of January - two bad colds in quick succession and some sort of sub-flu-style viral infection - so never managed to train. Now I can run again, I am not looking for races to enter because I have decided that writing takes priority. I can run for pleasure any time I want.

So, because I am not training for long races, watching TV and aimlessly surfing the web, I can spend time with my partner and my family. I can also spend time listening to music and choosing tracks for the jazz radio show I co-present with a close friend every fortnight. I can cook several times a week. I can watch DVDs and go to see films at the cinema. I am doing so much writing that it fills any gaps that are left over - yet it is the writing that dictates where most of the gaps are, because it is so important.

Above all, I am happy. The fact that my life changed so much, for the better, over the course of just a few months, enabled me to examine and reflect, then choose to channel my creativity constructively. This was the spark that ignited the tinder box of everything above.

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