Life as fiction (Julie Chibbaro)

Sometimes, I think I don’t know how to live, that given the choice,
all I really want to do is sit in a quiet room and write. I recently took two weeks off from writing due to family illness. I thought it would be good to take a break from the work. Just focus on family, keep my head in the world. I joke how I struggle with writing, even though I do it every day, and I thought, ‘well, now I have a good excuse not to write.’ But I didn’t realize how crabby I’d get after just a few days. I mean, I’d done it before – taken time off, like when my daughter was born (I took a week off), or my sister got sick (I still wrote, but about her). But never two solid weeks.

This is what happens to me, almost all the time, no matter what’s going on: Say I’m in an accident, or giving birth, or experiencing the illness of a loved one; in the back of my head, I’m thinking how I might translate the action to fiction. How can my life be useful in my work?

I get a good dose of guilt doing this. Why can’t I just be in the world without translating everything? In a way, though, I think my writer’s mind saves me. It makes sense of the world for me. In a way, writing is my life, and vice versa. They are interchangeable, they feed each other. One without the other wouldn’t mean as much to me.


  1. Wow, I can relate to this. Only I didn't come to writing until later in life. Now I see it as essential. How much more would it have centered me if I'd had this outlet in earlier years? Who knows. At least I have it now. Thanks for a great post!

  2. I know exactly what you mean about feeling grumpy if you don't get a chance to write. That's what happens to me, too. I'm such a writing addict that I even get up earlier than everyone else when we're on vacation, just so I have a little writing time.

  3. I know what you mean about translating the action in your life into fiction. I have a part-time retail job, which can be very boring because it basically consists of doing the same tasks every day. So I started eavesdropping on customers' conversations (I can't help listening sometimes, because they often don't notice me even if I'm standing right there and they talk pretty loudly) and hearing funny/interesting things that they said. Then I'd write down those sentences in my journal later.

  4. Everything you said rings true with me. If we didn't react to life that way, we wouldn't be writers.


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