Having the time to write is a privilege.
Some people have to get up early, make breakfast for the kids, make a lunch for the kids, make sure the kids are dressed appropriately, drive the kids to school — and then, go to work. Some people have to pick up the kids, watch them in the park, or take them to soccer, fix them dinner, make them take a bath, read them a bed time story, and by then, some people are too exhausted to write — because they still have to clean house, do laundry, pay bills, and whatever else has piled up.
— David Gerrold, https://www.patreon.com/DavidGerrold/posts
He has an entire article on this. Join his Patreon to read it. He expresses it better than I can, just as Miles Davis plays trumpet better than I can or Van Gogh paints better than I can.
The Time to Write is not a privilege to be taken lightly. Too few people have this privilege. I’m hoping to change the world, such that everyone can live their lives pursuing the Art that ignites their passion. There are too many privileges denied to too many people.
I am a straight white male. This means, whether I wanted it or not, I was born with Privilege. Don’t mistake this to mean I was born without challenges to overcome, or that I haven’t ever faced difficult circumstances. Being a straight white male doesn’t exempt anyone from ugliness. It means only that I don’t have to bear any extra malice because of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation, or my gender. Those who don’t fit into all three of these categories will almost certainly face prejudice to which I have never been subjected. That’s the world in which we live. It must be changed.
That we can make this change is obvious. To believe we are stuck forever in this cesspool of hatred is to anchor us permanently in the muck. To be a cynic is as easy as it is fruitless. I suspect that’s why there are so many of them. Giving up requires so very little effort. Intellectual laziness is the worst kind.
Change is more difficult. It begins, I’m told, with being aware of the struggles of others. I am aware of many. I am certain that there are many more I’ve never even imagined.
My objective tonight is to help you become aware of the struggles others face because it will change your relationship to them. You will, to the extent that I am successful, be more understanding of the problems of people who are not necessarily just like you. In understanding, we quiet our hatreds, jealousies, and fears. The world becomes better when we raise our empathy to a more reasonable plane.
I believe all human beings should share in the privileges I have done nothing to earn. I don’t deserve anything special because of where, when, or to whom I was born. What I deserve has to do with my behaviors, not my heritage.
Of all the privileges I’ve ever had, though, the greatest is The Time to Write. Unlike those with which I had nothing to do, I purchased this privilege at the price of losing my health and the ability to participate in the normal routine of our society. Since I can’t work anymore, the government sends me enough that, along with my Patreon and the help I get from my friends, I can stay alive.
Everyone deserves this privilege. We’ve been advancing as a species for 200,000 years. We’ve arrived at the place we can all survive and live in relative comfort without being forced to labor pointlessly in an effort to find food and shelter and medical care and the education that makes us a better species.
All of this means that I get to do what I most want to do. I get to create. Writing is one means of creation for me, but so is my podcast, and so are the videos I like to do. I love putting together audio plays. And I get to do those things whenever I choose. This is the life I have always wanted. I loathe the way I fell into it, but I love what I get to do. This is a privilege I have, in some twisted way, earned. I’m happy to have it. I deserve it. Why?
My Writing Coach pointed out that I spent 29 years watering the tree by teaching Elementary School and making a difference for my students. I’m allowed to sit in its shade now and enjoy some of the fruit. But I need to keep watering it every day anyway.
Euphoria is the best word to describe what I feel now. I get to create without interference. I have no concerns about publishing or having my work produced by Hollywood. I don’t need them. I don’t have any interest in fame or fortune. I have enough, and that’s all I want. I have the time to create, and I don’t have to listen to anyone’s “notes,” or pitch my ideas, or hope to get into a room with The Person Who Can Say Yes. I don’t need to write a “blurb.” I don’t have to write a short biography. All those things, and many, many more are required if you want to make money as a writer. I don’t want to do any of them. They bore me to tears.
Sometimes happiness is created not by getting more, but by clearing away the things that you don’t want. There’s an apocryphal story that Michelangelo created The Statue of David by “clearing away all the bits that weren’t David.” I have no evidence he ever said anything of the kind, but the point is pertinent. I’m carving my life by clearing away the things that aren’t what I want to be.
I’m not interested in having any money beyond what I need to meet my survival needs and occasionally order from Uber Eats or something.
What I don’t understand is why people think there is something about winning the birth lottery that makes them superior to others. If I’m better than some people (and I like to think I am), it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m straight, or white, or male. It certainly has nothing to do with being born in America to a loving family. Those things helped me, but they don’t make me superior. They made my life somewhat less awful than others who weren’t born with my advantages. They made it easier for me to get to where I am.
I’m better or worse than others because of the things I do. I’m a better person than someone who shoots up a school. I’m not as good as someone who ensures the unhoused have safe places to sleep. I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of human beings. I always hope to be better, but that’s about my behaviors, not where, or to whom, or when, or even why I was born.
I’ve never been denied a checking account because of my gender. I’ve never had a hassle with voting because of the color of my skin. I’ve never been attacked for my sexual orientation. Those are privileges I didn’t earn. All human beings deserve all the privileges I never did anything to earn. No one should ever face those situations. No one is better off for them.
What I wonder is why the absence of mistreatment is considered a privilege at all. Shouldn’t that be a basic part of everyone’s life? Why should people suffer because of parts of them over which they have no control?
Of course I resent what my Diabetes has done to me. On the other hand, it bought me this life. I have a luxury far too few people have. I can lie in bed without worrying about when I have to be at work. I can cuddle my Best Good Boy and think about how I can be the best ally possible for people who don’t have privileges I did nothing to earn.
What could we do to allow the greatest number of people possible to live the lives they choose? Isn’t that the goal we should all be pursuing?
We may have different methods to get to that goal, but Freedom must mean the ability to decide how to spend the frighteningly few minutes we are allowed to be active parts of the universe.
I suspect that when my body finally fails, the energy it contains will return to the universe from which it originated. I don’t have a clue what form, if any, it will take.
But I am certain that the thing that is Fred won’t exist on Earth ever again. It didn’t exist for trillions of years prior to November 14, 1962. It won’t exist again even trillions of years after I die.
That means these few minutes matter. I finally get to enjoy those I have remaining. What can I do so more people can enjoy more of their minutes? This is what I need to learn. I hope you’ll teach me.