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Li ve and Learn

When I decided to make a big life change, I imagined I’d be living in the quiet mountains of Georgia with endless time to enjoy life. I’d have uninterrupted hours to enjoy nature, to study and write. However, the reality is different. I am always behind, feeling like there is too much to do. My “I have to get to . . .” list never empties.


 


Part of this is the fact that we are still working on setting up our new world, building a house,  remodeling a cabin, setting up our new property management business, all of which entails lots of work and organization – errands galore…. And part of it is my commitment to family. I’m “there” for my kids 110% (making up for lost time, don’t ya know). And part of it is that I decided to jump the gun and start a hobby farm even before moving to the land – so every day I have this 35-minute drive each way to feed my four legged friends. Then, there is the normal stuff you try to squeeze into your day, working out, cooking, running, an occasional ride when you can’t resist. And throw into the mix the various hobbies I am toying with, jewelry making, crafts etc…. And most importantly- I have to watch American Idol, ya know.


 


But most of it is this damn MFA I’m pursuing. It requires about 35 hours a week, which is just about a full time job. I love reading. Love writing, but once it becomes a “Have to do” rather than a “want to do” the flavor of it all changes. I find I have to force myself to work on my book. When I was running the dance empire, writing was my escape. I adored it. Now, it’s an obligation, and I find myself making excuses to avoid it. It’s all about attitude, I guess, and I have to work to keep my writing associations positive.Not that I don’t still love to write. I don’t have to force myself to blog – but then, that writing isn’t required. It’s a pleasure because it’s a choice.  The fact is, the book I’m writing isn’t fun. It isn’t full of romance, sex, and all the stuff I can sink my teeth into with joy. It’s filled with social commentary and purpose, and it’s literary (ugh). I don’t like my new book, but I am told no one likes their book if they are writing something “real.” (Bah. Humbug to that.)  


 


Nevertheless, I’m happy with my studies. I know I’m improving, and I’m getting some wonderful feedback from professors I admire. I think going back to school for a formal writing education is the best decision I could have made, considering my long term goals. Now, I’m forced to push the envelope as a writer. I’m exposed to authors I’d never bother to read if I wasn’t forced to, and I’m learning so much more than how to structure a sentence from the experience. 


 


But still, I miss reading for fun. I miss being able to follow an interest and pick up a book just because I’m fascinated with the subject. Today, I actually ordered a book for pleasure. I probably won’t have time to read it for a year (when I graduate) but still, I couldn’t resist. It’s called In Praise of Slowness, Challenging the Cult of Speed. It’s a book about the philosophy of “making real and meaningful connections with people, culture, work, food, everything.” It isn’t a book that attacks our current culture – just one that questions it and offers alternatives. I read a fascinating interview with the author and a review of the book in the World Ark, the magazine for Heifer international (OK, I do make time for my bleeding heart periodicals…. So shoot me, I worry about the world, and I’m still trying to save it, one goat at a time.)


 


But for now, like it or not, I’m reading Burning Your Boats, short stories by an sophisticated British writer, Angela Carter, (and trying to come up with some intellectual opinion about it for my next book annotation, which ain’t easy). And a book called, “Believer’s Book of Writers Talking to other Writers”, which is an intellectual look into the motivations of some respected world writers. It’s actually pretty good. I just finished a collection of Raymond Carter’s short stories (liked it) and a book entitled Caramella, (a memoir) for my creative non-fiction studies – which, by the way, is going extremely well. I have a gift for non-fiction, apparently, and I think, when I am done with my torturous dance novel, I’ll try my hand at a humorous memoir about midlife change and moving to the country.


 


But boy, what I wouldn’t do for the time to read a racy romance with great sex and absolutely no intellectual value right now. (Sigh).


 


I saw a wonderful quote today”


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  – Mahatma Gandhi-


 


Good advice, I think. At least, I’m getting the “learning” part down now. When school is over, maybe I’ll have time to tackle the “living” part too. In fact, just to be sure, I’ll put it on my “have to get to. . .” list.


 


 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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