Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Contentment or Wimping Out?

I haven’t posted for a few days, mostly because my husband and I made a long trek to Mississippi to visit his relatives for Easter. It was a fun trip but exhausting (almost ten hours in the car yesterday). I started knitting an afghan on the way and got really caught up in that, so the time passed quickly.

I just started knitting in the past few months. I also am learning to make beaded jewelry and I took up quilting again, which I used to do years ago. Lately, much of my time and money is spent on one or the other of those pursuits.

I can’t figure out whether to be happy or disturbed about all this. When I was a kid, I wanted to dabble in everything. I wanted to play piano and guitar. Act in plays. Speak fluent Spanish. Sew gorgeous clothes. Knit, crochet, etc., etc. I eventually learned that if I really wanted to write—and that was my passion—I had to let most of those other pursuits go. Otherwise, I’d never get beyond the “dabbling” stage in writing, too.

So for many years, whenever I had a few leisure minutes, I was either writing or reading. I dreamed of a day when I could spend more time on my novels, and tried to find ways to squeeze a few more writing hours into my schedule.

My writing routine was interrupted when I went back to school for my master’s degree. For a couple of years, I accepted the fact that work, school, and family were all I could handle. I also developed a new habit of flipping through country decorating magazines because I could do that for five or ten minutes when my brain was otherwise exhausted. Maybe that’s what got me lusting after quilts and afghans and handmade goods. All I know is that, when I finally finished school about a year and a half ago, I wanted to write again. But I also wanted to create with my hands.

This weekend, as I watched that gorgeous afghan growing under my fingers (the yarn is beautiful even if my stitches aren’t), I realized something. For the first time in my life, I could be content without writing. I love my job, my husband and my home. I could very easily work and look forward to a long, relaxing evening with a quilting frame or a box of shiny glass beads. Maybe that creative urge could actually be fulfilled without—gasp!—building a world with words.

I don’t know whether to be happy or sad at this realization. On the one hand, I’ve sometimes worried that my writing is too much of an obsession. God doesn’t want us to hold onto anything too tightly—to want it more than we want him. So maybe it’s a good thing to know I could live quite well without ever becoming a great novelist, and that God would still fill my life with wonderful things.

On the other hand, what if my writing truly is a calling from God? I’ve gotten a lot of indications from him that seem to confirm that call. Do I possibly want to stop writing because it’s gotten too serious, too hard? After all, I used to play with writing the way I play now with knitting. Since I’ve gotten serious about writing as a profession, it frankly isn’t so much fun anymore. Sometimes it’s downright painful. Am I just wimping out, thinking about quitting right before I reap a harvest?

Hmm…I’ll keep you all informed. In the meantime, let me know what you think. By the way, the pictures are of my buddy, Wendy. She loves knitting, too.