Shelley Widhalm

The Broken-Hearted Starving Artist

In 52: A Writer's Life, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on April 28, 2013 at 11:00 am

Sometimes, I wish I was a practical salesperson, manager type or businessperson who knew how to make things happen.

Instead, I’ve got my head in the clouds with my fingers itching, my heart running out of control and my senses on the constant search for the space-time continuum to write.

I don’t fold into starving artist status because I’m practical, a quality that gets me to work, smacks my butt into a cubicle chair and makes me put in the hours.

But this practicality interferes with the artist self. I am left with little time for creativity, writing and imagination. I have to wedge in the time, instead of allowing for writing to be a part of my daily work life where I have several hours to devote to the process.

The result is lost poems and short stories, because the inspiration, motivation and readiness to write do not follow a schedule. I have to tamp down that artist self and forget her calling out to me in order to be what I am not.

The artist self has to be blocked into free time before and after work between chores, family time and the time for living, experiencing and hanging out with friends. She gets lost, bored, lonely and tired, too, from knocking on my soul’s door when I can’t listen.

I tell her that I’m busy.

She curls up trying to take up less space, knowing she’s rejected.

If she weren’t there inside me, even when she takes up less and less space, the fact of her being there starts breaking my heart. She’s in there wanting expression, and because she’s trying to rise up when I push her down, I am in constant conflict. I can’t rest or be at peace.

I feel guilty when I don’t write during my free time, but then when I just go live, she’s there soaking up my heartbeat, so I can’t forget her.

I can’t forget her because she is part of who I am.

She is why I don’t give up writing, even if being practical would be an easier way to earn a paycheck.

  1. I think you’re in good company. The vast majority of writers are in the same boat.

  2. I can relate, Shelley! 🙂

  3. I feel exactly the same. Exactly in italics.

  4. wish you could have more time to explore and enjoy your craft. i also feel guilty when i don’t write in my free time. one other thing i noticed is when you talk to other writers, you can almost sense their inner writer self. it’s pretty cool. good luck! great post.

    • I noticed that, too, about glimpsing into writers’ inner selves from how they look at the world and the words they choose to describe it. What kind of writing do you do? How do you fit in writing time? –Shelley

      • I do mostly short stories. usually i need someone to motivate me. someone at my job who has an english degree and is also a writer suggested that we both write a prompt and exchange them. that helped me get started. journaling is the easiest way to jump right in. if you write every day, then you will be able to get stuff done in shorter amounts of time. also, jot down notes throughout the day. constantly be thinking about how you could incorporate events into a story. those are just things i do. sometimes i go through phases without writing, but whenever i’m doing it everyday, it is easier to find time.

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