I can’t claim the above title as mine – I read something similar in a literary journal once (wish I could remember which one!) The author wrote about how she went to a writing colony for a couple weeks with the express intent of finishing up one short story but found the solitude stifling and she ended up returning home early and finishing the story around house-cleaning, child-rearing, dentist appointments, etc. She called it writing around the edges of a busy life.
Sometimes I feel a bit – inauthentic. Is that a word? I feel inauthentic because I at once consider myself a writer – a person who both writes to earn her living and a person to hopes to eventually write to earn her living writing HER way, but I am not one of those writers who, say, rigorously wake up at 4:00 every morning to work for three hours or only works odd jobs in order to maximize her time writing – one must have a retirement savings, no? I am practical. And I have slovenly habits, one day waking up at 5:00 to write, another working late into the night even though I have to work the next morning. I still remember those heady graduate school days when I awoke at 7:00, wrote in my pajamas until noon and only then showered and moved about the world – no wonder I wrote a whole loooong book and even revised most of it! But that was my life then, and it is not now – now I have eye doctor’s appointments and laundry and pants I need to get hemmed, a checkbook to balance, dinner plans with friends, and yoga class – obligations for my work and obligations for S.’s work and obligation to friends and family and for a long time I resented or felt guilty for every minute I didn’t spend writing, every minute I spent spending with friends or in the movies or scrubbing my floors, but last week I had a bit of a revelation – I can write and read around the edges of my life, right now. I mean, for Pete’s sake, I turn 30 in two months and when I reflect on the last decade I spent FIVE of those years in school – FIVE. That’s ridiculous luck and privilege, right there. Ridiculous.
Last week after the Yogurt Incident I confess I took a mental health day, something my dad let me do in high school when the world was too much with me. It is one thing to feel a little stressed out and another entirely (at least if you are me) to find yourself crying in the women’s bathroom because your yogurt is gone. On my mental health day I slept in absurdly late, and then I cleaned my house – and did I ever clean it! I scrubbed and dusted and mopped and organized, I returned library books and I returned dvd’s and I deleted everything from my Tivo that I hadn’t watched and now I sit this morning in a house where I don’t owe the library any books, Blockbuster any dvd’s, and all my bills are paid. I’m quite sure there’s a biblical quote somewhere about now that your house is really clean, so is your mind? Maybe? At any rate. I’m the sort of person who spends time with her friends and her family, whose life will only get busier with the addition of children (hopefully), who must work and who is primarily responsible for the household in terms of groceries, meals and dusting (S. does clean quite a bit). So last week I decided to take some of the pressure off – no more reading challenges, for one. I had too many books going to concentrate on and I found myself watching television instead of reading which I have never ever ever done even when young. I was watching television instead of reading because I couldn’t slog through anymore Tolstoy or Berube and so I put Tolstoy and Berube away, opened I Am Charlotte Simmons, and life is so much better. And, so television isn’t a distraction, I deleted every television show I had taped, which truly was an embarrassing amount. It’s okay, I decided, to catch a show here or there but it is not okay to fall into tivo’s trap, which makes every television show in the world available to you. And finally, with my writing, I do need to keep submitting essays and to keep putting fingers to keys, every day – but it’s okay if I’m slow. One of the frustrating things about the whole literary journal thing was not the rejection so much as the fact that I recognize I need to resubmit as soon as possible but I write so slowly the essay I submitted is the only appropriate piece I had for it! So it’s okay if that, too, takes time. Because I am writing and reading (and blogging!) around the edges of a busy life, and I’m quite blessed –