Posted by: sulya | 16 August 2009

How I Continually Betray the Writer


I have all these ideas about how to be a more consistent and ambitious writer.

All these ideas.

So I clean my floors and do laundry, including all the bed sheets, and flip mattresses and scrub the kitchen and make a batch of chicken for the week and make a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins and scrub all the play mats in my son’s room with a scrub brush and rinse out the car play-mat he got for his birthday last year.  I putter around on the computer.  I watch about fifty episodes of Gilmore Girls just to enjoy the snappy, fast – achingly familiar – dialogue and the fact that it was a show about three generations of WOMEN that was on the air for 7 seasons.  I talk on the phone with friends.

I dream.  Fantasize.  Wonder.
I get crushed by years of something I should never have let crush me.
I leave and do everything I can to heal with a ticking clock on my shoulders.
I am afraid all the time and hide it behind muffins and chicken.
I hide it behind hope that I will not be crushed again.
Even as there is more pain.
Even as there is more hope.

I decide – not for the first time – that I am going back to school.  Only this time it would be for a Masters Degree and I have what feels like a truly kick-ass idea that I can truly get behind and that preliminary research reveals I might actually have some support for at my local university.  And, given I can’t move anywhere because no matter what anyone thought I would do when my ex and I split, I have no interest in taking my son away from his father – that the local university might have professors/advisors in-house who might not thumb their noses at me – who might even find my idea interesting – is a nice thing.

And I listen to loud music.  Dance around in front of the many mirrors in this place pretending I’m about 10 years younger than I am and never hurt myself dancing 10 years ago.  I think, not for the first time, that I would have made a fan-fucking-tastic choreographer.  Or, at least, that I would have loved the job whether or not anyone loved how I did the job…

I think about every language I have ever wanted to learn and think that, at least, I should find a way to get my French to a better place; a discussion group or class or something…  I think about how ridiculously sexy I found Hungarian when I was in Budapest.

I clean the cat’s paw prints off of the coffee table.  Out of the bathtub.

I wind up – somehow – discussing one of my several unfinished screenplays with a friend of mine.  She makes interesting suggestions.  Reasonable.  I snap and bark and carry on like the little bitch I am.

I am a shifty restless mess by evening and wind up – due to a friend’s status update on facebook – at a late-night movie that is in part about a woman who writes a blog and gets a book deal and also about another woman who wrote a cookbook and changed how everyone in North America cooked.

I come home.

I think, “Man. No matter what I do.  No matter how many times I have tried to give myself JUST to writing, no matter how many years or days or hours or minutes I have tried to devote to writing or editing or getting published or optioned or anything related to this art form I love and do whether I want to or not because otherwise I am an even bigger snappy barking bitch than usual…  No matter what I do I betray the writer.  I leave her in the dirt to do anything and everything else but honour her passion and even, as I have slowly come to respect, her skill.  Her still-needs-a-lot-of-work-and-always-will skill…. I always betray the writer.”

She comes last.
Even when I put her first she comes last and I get snappy.
I bark.
I am an even bigger bitch than usual.
I hate myself for not trusting her.
Not trusting that she might be an answer to all the fear and pain, a version of all the hope, if only I would give her more time than I do.

I hate myself for craving the validation of institutions instead of embracing the confidence and fairly modest – when all is said and done – ambitions of a self I do finally know is not a complete fucking idiot.

I want it all and I am so afraid that I won’t get any of it and the first thing to go is always the writing no matter how much I love it.

And I don’t know what the hell to do about it or if I even should.

I just know I always betray the writer
I always betray the writer but damn the muffins taste good.



  1. The great fallacy of the artist is that our art must come at expense of our life, when ideally it should be the sum expression of it. And sometimes an unwillingness to connect with our art, is an unwillingness to immerse ourselves in a life that feels fractured or distorted (which almost every life does). Keep with it, Sulya; we all wander in the desert.

  2. Valliant – this is beautiful and very true. Nothing has ever bothered me more than four years of film/art school where the predominant ostensibly “romantic” notion was that if one were not in pain to “create” then the creation must be false, that creativity is not really present… It makes me rather ill actually… Writing – even when it makes me cry – is a release and a pleasure to me. It always has been and likely always will be.

    That said, I think what I am tackling here – and perhaps I did not articulate it clearly enough – is not that I “do not write” (though certainly there are times things are indeed ‘fractured’ and I do not want to engage) – it’s that I never choose to “be a writer” with any real or lasting commitment… I choose other battles to fight as possible career.. I choose to try to gain both financial security and external validation through other means… I always betray the writer and set her behind things when it is possible – if I worked it with real gusto and true commitment FOR REAL and from many angles – that I might be able to cobble together a life from writing… Who knows…. Anyway – thank you very much for the thought. Lovely as always.

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