Written by Kameron Hurley
When I die, I want to leave behind an exceptional body of narrative. To do that requires a dedication to creating novels and essays and stories at a clipped pace. I get asked a lot about how I find the time to write, which is a little like asking someone how they have the time to raise children. If it matters, you find the time. Sometimes you aren’t great at it, though, just as sometimes the best you can say is that you’re the world’s OK-est parent. But there are days when you’re the best, too, when you feel like you’re the most accomplished person in the world, and no one has parented quite like you have. And then there are the days your kids drive you nuts, and you feel so overwhelmed that you lock yourself in the bathroom and sob.
Yes, writing is a lot like that.
We’re all fighting some kind of battle. Life itself is a game that none of us are going to win. It’s just not set up that way. We have to decide what to do with the time we’re given.
I’ve chosen to write.
Charles Bukowski once wrote, “Find what you love and let it kill you,” and this is something I think about when I’m not writing. I think about it when I see my reflection in the Netflix loading screen. I think of it when I’m playing video games, tapping some keys to kill hordes of fake digital objects in exchange for fake digital goods. I think of it while scrolling through the reams of outrageous things people say on Twitter. My day job is in marketing and advertising, and so I’m keenly aware that we have built a society that would prefer that we consume content instead of create it. Consumption has always been easier than creation. But I want to leave more behind me than a series of unfulfilling temp jobs and a top score on Angry Birds.
We are each awarded a finite amount of time. For me, it will be shorter than most. I have a chronic illness, which is mostly invisible, but I know it will get me eventually. It inspires me to type a little faster. Probably too fast. But when I consider what else I’d rather be doing with the time given, I can’t come up with any alternatives.
It is this type of work, this work that you must carve out time for, work that is worth giving up so much for, that should be the work that kills you. It should be the work you are engaged in with your last breath. None of us will wish on our deathbed that we had spent more time answering work email. But it requires fighting. Not just against a society that would rather we consume, but against our own negative self-talk, our own internalized negging.
But our life’s work is worth fighting for.
So what will you fight for? What do you want to die doing?
Go and do that, because life is shorter than your Netflix queue.
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