In Which the Writer is out of Bed

Well, this is refreshing. I’m writing. Out of the house. Wearing something that isn’t pajamas.

Part of how I’ve managed to get my words in so far this year is that most days I don’t go straight home from work. Instead, I drive directly to my nearest caffeine dispensary, order a cup of something hot and strong, and write for a few hours. Sometimes, this means I just stare at the screen or the page for the first half of the time, but as I’ve said, when you’re out of the house and have paid to be sitting there, writing has a bit more value.

It helps that I don’t work a particularly draining job, because I have something left of my brain just after work. Back when I taught pre-school, I might not have had the energy. Of course, I also never tried writing right after work; I was a bit too eager to get to drinking.

But that is another story entirely.

These last few weeks of not writing has made me notice how unhappy I am when I’m not writing. I wake up to a gray and lifeless reality. I feel useless, pointless. It reminds me of many years I spent wanting to write, but never getting to it.

And I’m feeling grateful.

I’m grateful that my life is structured the way it is. I live in a very low-stress place, I work a very part-time and low-stress job. It isn’t by accident.

It seems like for years, I kept waiting to have the energy to write. I kept thinking: as soon as I get a raise, find a new job, get past this project, I’ll write then. I’ll have the energy, the time. I traded years of my life looking for the right job that would give me enough money and time that I could write, and in the mean time I filled notebooks with writing practice and read all the writing books, and waited for perfect circumstances…

And when the economy tanked and I had to move back in with my mom, when I spent a few years sick and out of work, when it all fell apart…

I had nothing to show for it.

Not even some little bits of writing that I could say I was proud of.

I decided to make a life that would be a slave to my writing, not the other way around.

I’d been waiting for life to get good enough to let me put words on the page, but what it took was losing everything to realize that I could build my life out of anything. I spent years running away from being broke, selling my soul and biding my time. But instead, I’ve learned to swallow my pride a little.

Sure, I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t have benefits. But what I do have is time, and space, and support. I can write for hours every day if I want to. I don’t have to worry about deadlines at work, or semesters in school. Sometimes, the real world looms hard and fast outside of the window, wondering when I’ll figure out how to be a grown up again.

But it’s so much better than when writing wandered dejectedly in the yard, kicking at rocks and wondering when I would learn to be a dreamer again. I would rather be shiftless and broke and happy than living up to the expectations of society.

Ok, I’d rather be making fantastic money and writing and living a great life. But you know what I mean.

I’m still working on the life built around writing thing. This project, this year of noveling, is the next piece of the puzzle. Writing goals, a community of people to support and encourage me, leaning what it truly looks like to write most days and to finish projects. This is important.

Maybe I could have done this a few years ago, fitting a steady writing practice around a full time job with a desk and expectations. Knowing what I do now, I am positive I should have been able to, if only I could have realized that writing was my real life and everything else is just here to make that happen.

But that isn’t my path. I had to lose it all to realize what was there the whole time. I am a writer. My life should be about writing.

And there is nothing more sad than a writer not writing.

So here I am, writing again. And happy.

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5 thoughts on “In Which the Writer is out of Bed

  1. I’m glad to hear you’re up, about, and back at it. Like you, I tend to get cranky when I can’t carve out time to write every day. Right now, it’s only about an hour a night crammed somewhere between making dinner, playing with the dogs, blogging, and bed, but it’s a pretty consistant hour anyway. I’d love to take a year off and do nothing but write, but there are promises to keep and whatnot, so I’ll make do with what time I can sneak in. 🙂

  2. In Which I Keep The Writer Honest By Quoting The Writer On Her Progress
    (Or, The Author Is Getting Better And Buffy Is Tagging Along. Again.)

    “Word count?”
    “Uhhhh 18,401. :P”
    “That’s all?”
    “Oh poo. That’s up 3000. I could do a little more, but there’s Buffy…”
    “… Buffy. Is your excuse.”
    [INSERT CHANGE OF TOPIC]

    1. True, yes you can spend a lot of time just rearranging the plcines. And yes, you ought to write anything just write to get things going. But I find that whenever I’m wanting to write, there’s no use in forcing it. You need space, not just physical space although that can often help but you need mind space. I need to have my mind uncluttered of life’s trivia, so ideas can find their way in and not get snarled up. I can write to order if needs be, if there’s a deadline, but something worthwhile needs a combination of mental intensity and expansiveness at the same time.

  3. The option of a “full time” job and writing is difficult to execute.

    Science seems to be saying that the mitochondria need 1 hour of aerobic exercise 5-6 days a week to reduce the risks of the wheels coming off as we get older. The nervous system seems to require 6-7 hours of sleep or insanity begins to creep in around the edges. The body needs good food that usually requires preparation, since the artificial food at the market doesn’t cut it. The life requires some time spent with a significant other.

    40 hours of work plus transportation back and forth etc. and life maintenance (see above plus more) plus serious writing seems unrealistic.

    Good to just go for it!

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