Last year, I quit everything.
A slightly exaggerated statement, but that’s how it felt when I took on two - then three - then four new jobs. Waitressing no longer made ends meet, and so I took on freelance work - editing, copywriting, ghostwriting - using everything I knew about words and language to make a little extra money.
It was exhausting.
And so I took a short hiatus from every kind of writing that didn’t pay, and in my free time - after spending the morning making coffee and the afternoon tutoring / editing / copywriting - I spent time with friends and family. I made sure that I got outside, that I rode my bike, that I ate good food and drank some good beer and laughed a lot. I didn’t write; not much, anyway.
And I do not feel guilty.
Okay, that is not true. I always feel guilty when I’m not writing. But I am intentionally, consciously ignoring those feelings. Because I needed to work, and I needed to rest.
There will come times in life when you are not at your best, creatively. It may be work or young children that keeps you from your art; it may be just a dry spell. But it’s okay. It’s all okay. You need not be ashamed of taking a hiatus from your art, because you yourself are a piece of art. Your existence involves learning, singing, making friends, practicing a faith, cooking, decorating, changing diapers, doing homework. And even if those things are not artistic in the way our society defines it, so what? You matter. Your life matters. Call it work. Call it school. Call it child-rearing. I will call it art.
This past year, I did not finish my book like I’d hoped. But I did discover a newfound love of biking. I got a puppy. I baked a lot of cookies. I worked as a ghostwriter. I organized a poetry reading. I painted. I got engaged. I finally tried kombucha.
And now, I am writing again. I have only one job and I am sitting in an office with a view of the mountains. I have time to create, and time to continue all the rest of the loves I have found.
But this stage of life, with all its renewed creativity and decreased stress, is not any more or less important than the last year. Whether your life right now is characterized by rest or productivity, grief or joy, exhaustion or rejuvenation - live it well. Do not be ashamed. Every day is a blank page. Everything is art.