My Writing Life
I am a writer.
What does my day look like?
I wake up at 6. I immediately go to the kitchen counter with my phone to brew my kalita wave coffee. This takes about 5 minutes, not including the time I might have to wait for the water to boil.
I pour the coffee in the mug I use every day for coffee (woe betide those who use it for other purposes). It is blue and white and has a drawing of some buffalo on it. I pour myself a separate mug of water so I don’t get dehydrated.
I sit on my green couch nearby (my apartment is small, resulting in the kitchen and living room being the same room — I live in New York after all).
Before I take even one sip, I open my journal. I write whether I’m feeling optimistic or sad. Then I get to the meat of the entry.
“I wonder what I will write today? How much will I write today? Will I get to write a blog post? I’d better take a sip of coffee.”
Then I take a sip.
“Good coffee today.”
Then I descend into nonsense, because I want to surround my mind by pleasant amorphous ideas.
“Write, write, write. To write. I love to write.”
Soon I return to reality and make a checklist of what I have to accomplish that day. I do it in my journal as opposed to digitally because my journal is the only thing I check regularly. Then I write what I expect out of the day. By then it’s past 7 and I have to work very fast to leave the apartment by 7:50 or earlier for work.
During work around 12 or 12:30 I take a half hour break. It is not spent eating lunch: I eat lunch at my desk. No. During this break I go to as secluded an area as possible, which has sometimes meant the women’s room, and I open my journal, click open my work pen and write.
This time it’s an escape — at least more so than usual. Again, the first thing I write is whether I’m optimistic or sad. Then, unlike the mornings, I have the energy to brainstorm. I start writing as much as possible, hoping some idea will flow out, to be cultivated later when I have more time. I usually come up with at least one viable idea, though I often discard it later. I might complain about having to return to work after this refreshing swim in the pool of the writing world, but then I correct myself, saying I happen to like my job too, and I only have 4 hours left anyway.
On the weekends, I have a much more flexible schedule. Saturday morning I wake up late, lounge, and than lazily begin to write as much as I want, which is quite a lot, and for the first few hours it isn’t much to speak of. An important distinction is that on Saturdays and Sundays I have my coffee before I write. I am less desperate to commune with writing. I know it will come.
It’s been several months now that I’ve continued on this cycle. Sometimes I have a good week and I manage to write a post during the work week, but usually I only get around to it on weekends.
I’m still objectively new to this job — to the working life in general actually — and even if the newness were only subjective, I’m slow to adjust to any life change.
When I was growing up we had a gigantic tree in the front of the house, outside my bedroom window. It became hollow and dangerous. We had it cut down. I proceeded to complain regularly and write a fantasy short story about it that was very necessarily dramatic and got published in my high school literary publication. I don’t do change gracefully.
And maybe this change, this decision to write regularly and seriously, is also something I’m acclimating to, slowly and clumsily.
I still haven’t written much beyond these blog post and my journal’s scrawls — nothing that could be potentially published, though I have some ideas with promise. But so far my life is still mostly potential. Nothing kinetic. Nothing official, anyhow.
I’m still learning. Learning how to live like a writer. It’s different for everyone, I know. But there’s something that’s the same underneath.
I think it’s desperation.
We are all desperate to express ourselves.
That’s why for as many spare moments as I can steal, I write in my journal, even if it’s only to write the little chant “write, write, write, to write.”
A few months ago now I read Annie Dillard’s book “The Writing Life.” In it she never says a positive word about the life of being a writer. It’s all about it’s trials, it’s heartaches. Yet it persists, as she persists, and the artists she writes about persists.
She recounts a time she complained to a “normal” man about her writing, saying she didn’t like doing it. When he asked, “then why do you do it?” she was dumbfounded.
Annie Dillard doesn’t close this story with, “and now I know it is because I love it after all.” She closes this story before that conclusion.
The writing life is a struggle. The writing life is ugly. But we do it.
Annie Dillard never explicitly says why.
I know why I do it. Yes it’s because I love it after all. But that’s not the core.
At the core, there’s a need. A beautiful need with an ugly face: the need to express myself, perpetually.
Write, write, write. To write.