Ann Parker here, jamming in on my Tuesday. I've been thinking lately about how people--particularly but not only writers--are influenced by stress and hard times. Some rise above, some sink below, some seem to relish "the fight," and others would just as soon run away.
This first came up on my personal radar years ago, when I was venturing into the shallows of fiction writing. On some list or other, a writer (published mystery author... name long vanished from my memory) commented that her husband recently underwent brain surgery, and while he was "under," she was in the hospital waiting area, drafting her novel.
She said that she had no choice: She was under deadline.
I remember being completely thunderstruck by this. I couldn't imagine how someone could muster the concentration and focus to write under such circumstances. And yet, I've discovered that this author is far from alone.
Over the years, I've met writers who write through grave illnesses--their own, or a loved one's--through financial disaster, through family turmoils and job upheavals. Take a larger view, and there are writers who keep writing even though the four horsemen of the apocalypse are galloping through their lives: war, famine, pestilence, death... the whole nine yards.And I still wonder: How do they do it??
Because, I'll tell you straight and true: I can't. When calamity strikes close to home, my brain races like a hamster on a wheel, and all I can focus on is the situation at hand... even if the situation is completely and totally outside of my control and I can do nothing about it. [Note: This applies only to fiction, it seems. If I have a job deadline, I just plug through and do it. But those writing projects are much shorter than writing a book.]
Where some people escape into writing, I find that I will escape into reading, or maybe the movies (if time and the situation allow). So, am I the only one who has great difficulty turning on the spigot when the going gets tough? Are those who write through crisis the norm?
Am I a wimp because I, well, wimp out in the face of adversity? Comments, any and all, are welcome. Tell me how hard times influence (or not) your writing/reading habits. (You can even tell me I'm a wimp!)
*Special thanks to Mysti for the title inspiration, which appeared in her discussion of this week's topic.