For a while now I’ve been thinking about what I really want to do and where I want to do it. Location location location, right?
In trying to figure out what this life looks like, this life where I work with my favourite people — young women — I discovered that I also want to write. A lot. To be fair to myself, that wasn’t a new discovery, I’ve always loved writing, but I just never ever allowed myself to imagine a life where I write for a living in a place of my choosing. Where I live has always been about where I can afford to live, and for the first time in my life I’m daring to think about where I want to live.
I spent Easter weekend in what is my favourite city for now. I say for now because I’m sure that once I have travelled more I’ll pick a new fave. While sitting over breakfast, with mimosas nogal, it hit me that this is the life. This is the life I want to live.
Not the mimosas so much — I can afford champagne and orange juice — but the freedom to sit as long as I want in a beautiful location and not worry about much. I remember sitting there and looking at the ocean and wishing I had my laptop because I felt like writing. That’s when I decided to build a life where I can always write, where I don’t have to wait to be on holiday to feel like writing because my entire life is a writer’s retreat. A life where I can have a breakfast I want in beautiful surroundings and not worry whether my 30min is up yet, which is how I spend my lunch break at work: wondering if I’ll have enough time to prep my food and eat it before my time is up, or if there’s enough time for a glass of water to wash down a barely chewed repast. I decided right there and then that I want to turn my life into my version of a writer’s retreat, as far as that is possible, given that I am also a single mother
of two young children.
And so here is my two cents for anybody who has ever wished they could sit on the beach and write their days away:
Your life is your writer’s retreat.
The life you’re building? You’re building your retreat. If your retreat is messy, unpleasant to be in and not conducive to your writing process, then you need to stop whatever you’re doing and start over. You know writing is life, what are you messing about for? Fix yo’life!
My happy place is quite generic: it’s warm, I can hear the ocean and it’s warm. So my ideal life is one where if I don’t live withing hearing distance of the ocean, I at least get to be there as often as possible. What’s your favourite writing location? Do you even know? Or have you decided it’s so out of reach that you haven’t allowed yourself to really imagine it, let alone actually begin to work toward it?
If you want to be a writer then you need to be ruthless about turning your life into a writer’s retreat, YOUR writer’s retreat, right now. It might not be perfect yet, but it will do for now while you write yourself into the perfect one.
I heard something Octavia Butler said in an interview that made me stop and think. She was college-educated but after graduating she chose to take menial jobs so that while at work performing mindless tasks she could think about her stories. She got up at 2am EVERY DAY to write, then worked a full day and you know, rinse and repeat. She made a choice to forego the fancy title and fancy salary for the sake of the writing and look if it didn’t pay off big time: she was eventually able to live her ideal life: a big house with a big yard and enough money to book herself into hotels to write. She turned her life into her ideal writer’s retreat, and what a retreat! That hotel life? Trust me, I can dig it.
The reason why most of us will always want to be writers and never actually be authors is that we’re not willing to pay the price to actually get what we want. We all know that nothing in life is free, so why do you think your ideal writing life must come without cost? What are you willing to give up to live that dream life? You know, the one where you wake up and do what you want and write and do what you want? Do you really want to wait until you’re 40 or 50 to live that life? I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve decided I don’t want to be an old woman before living my dream life. I want to live it now. I mean, who says ‘No, wait with the good thing?’
I have children and can’t just pick up and leave because I have two whole lives to consider. But what about you? What’s your excuse? I dare you to find a legitimate reason for why you keep putting your dreams on hold. Legitimate, I said.
Go for it. Start imagining a life that is conducive to writing and then CREATE it. As Captain Planet said:
The Power Is Yours!
I DARE YOU.