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.