A Few More Valid Reasons Not to Write

In my last post, I said that people often tell me that they think they should write a book but they just can’t get around to it.  They say this as though they feel guilty.  I don’t think there is anything to feel guilty about.  And in my last post I gave several valid reasons for not writing.  This post gives a few more.  Here goes:

  • If you don’t like solitude, you probably won’t like writing.  Although some books have been written collaboratively, generally writing requires a great deal of time spent alone.  Some people don’t thrive in such isolation.  For extraverts who are energized by interactions with other people, the solitude of writing can feel not only lonely but downright depleting.  Being a “people person” is a gift.  If you have it, then interacting with people personally might be a better way of serving others than writing is. Something to think about, anyway.
  • Another reason for not writing, and especially for putting aside guilt about not writing, is that it may not be the best way to communicate what you want to say.  I think especially of older people who want to set down their life story for their children and grandchildren.  The well-intentioned grandpa may spend hours and hours, not to mention quite a few dollars, writing and self-publishing a memoir that then is shelved unread on family bookcases.  Grandpa is disheartened, but he shouldn’t be surprised–because the people in his family don’t really read much.  They may feel badly about not reading those pages and pages that Grandpa wrote, but they don’t actually have the time or the patience for it.  However, if Grandpa compiled and annotated a photo collection, they might really enjoy that.  They might enjoy it even more if Grandpa sat down with them to look at the photos together. Certainly I am not saying that people should not write their memories of life.  Memoirs are valuable.  But what other people often need more is personal connection.  I think we tend to overestimate the importance of our words on paper and underestimate the importance of our personal interactions.
  • But very often the reason people don’t “follow their dream” of writing is that they are attending to  pressing needs.  I can’t write because I’m too worn out from my job in a hospital emergency room.  Or I haven’t been able to write for months because my kids have been sick all winter.  Or I’ve been intending to write, but I’m a teacher, and it takes so long to plan good lessons, and my grading inbox is overflowing, and besides that, my students always seemed to need extra help, and—excuse me, my phone is ringing . . .

Remember George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life?  He dreamed of leaving Bedford Falls and his tedious, frustrating job at the bank there.  He wanted to go do something else, somewhere else.  But as he learned, mundane Bedford Falls and its plain, glamorless bank were exactly where he was needed, and all of his life countless people had depending on him to stay there, keep on working, keep on looking out for them, keep on averting disaster, keep on saving the day just by being there when no one else was.

So I say to anyone who has not been writing because they are too busy looking after the sick, or teaching children, or keeping a business from going under, or feeding their family, or listening to the broken-hearted, or loving their neighbor . . . THANK YOU.

Andean Life Outside Machu Picchu: My Growing Affection for Abancay, Peru

My husband and I recently spent about a week-and-a-half in in Abancay, Peru, visiting our son Brendan, daughter-in-law Erin and new grandson Oliver.  We travel to Peru about Peru July 2011 228once a year these days because Brendan and Erin live there as missionaries, high in the Andean town of Abancay.  (No, we have not seen Machu Picchu yet. That always seems to be the question we get asked when we come home from these trips.) Abancay is in a poor region populated by the indigenous Quechua people, and certainly when we travel to Abancay we are aware of being outside the “turistico” places with gringo amenities.   But we have grown fond of Abancay, in the way that you develop affection for places you associate with people you love–even if those places are a little dusty or hardscrabble.   Here’s what’s in Abancay:

Brendan, Erin and Oliver

Brendan, Erin and Oliver

  • A delightful new life, Oliver Miguel Connally.  His parents, Brendan and Erin, are already setting him an example of love, faith and joy in three languages, speaking to him in English, Spanish and Quechua.CIMG6870
  • The dry, rugged beauty of the Andes, where people live in very close connection to the earth: building their homes from its clay, planting crops wherever they can, letting their chickens and animals scratch and nibble among the scant grass and weeds.  In Abancay you see some donkeys and horses carrying loads and cows being led along next to the cars and trucks.  In front of their houses people might grow flowers, but they’re just as likely to grow long grass to feed their guinea pigs.  Which are raised for meat.

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  • Bougainvillea, hibiscus and other flowering bushes and trees, right there among the clotheslines and the buildings with re-bar sticking out the top.  (Regarding the re-bar, see the top picture. We’ve heard that people there like to leave their buildings looking unfinished, because once you finish your building you pay taxes on it.)
  • The market, where local ladies will sell you fresh guinea pigPeru July 2011 243, called cuy in Peru, or vegetables they’ve grown, or anything else that their equatorial mountain climate can produce.  I’ve shopped at the Abancay market, making my requests in Spanish.  My son talks with the people in Quechua, and he has attained somewhat of an heroic stature for being a gringo who uses their language. The people are more accustomed to their language being looked down upon.  CIMG6904
  • Stray dogs running around or laying around in packs together, making themselves at home in the neighborhoods even though they don’t belong to anyone.  Often mangy and carrying fleas, they eat what they can find.March 2012 Peru Trip 176
  • Most of all, the Quechua people.  Brendan and Erin have many friends here in the Andes.  The people have been most welcoming toward Rory and me because they love Erin and Brendan–and now they love Oliver, too.  We were with Brendan and Erin on the first Sunday they took Oliver to their Quechua-speaking church.  Everyone was so happy about the arrival of this baby.  And so curious about him: the birth of a gringo baby among them was a big event!  The children gathered around, eager to see Oliver’s blue eyes.  He has been born into a loving circle of friends.  These people are his Peruvian family, and as his grandmother who can only be with him a few days of each year, I am very grateful for the love they’ve extended.
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