I wasn’t sure, earlier this month, if I was going to keep blogging about my progress, or lack thereof, about my writing. In looking through my 2009 posts, so many of them were about my novel that I managed to bore myself – I can’t believe so many of you stuck around for that particular journey. Thank you. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to see if I could avoid blogging about writing for an entire year, but after spending the month of January considering my writing, and where to go from here, I’ve decided to continue thinking through the process on this site. It is, after all, one of the huge reasons I started this blog in the first place.
I have to admit I’ve spent the last two months in a rather unattractive writerly angst. I’ve been feeling like a failure because I haven’t been able to manage the writing-from-home thing – instead, I have a rather demanding job that requires more time and attention than the forty hours a week it says on paper. When a week occurs like this last one, I can often be found working from 5:30 or 6 in the morning until well after dinner time – sacrificing the gym, a clean house, my writing. I’ve even considered ceasing writing altogether, except for the blog, for a period of one year, wondering, perhaps, if I didn’t feel like I should be writing then perhaps I’d be a happier person, over all.
I feel like a failure as a writer in various and sundry ways – I don’t write every day, for instance. I haven’t submitted anything in months. It seems other writers I know are able to just totally tackle revising their first drafts immediately whereas mine has caused me to essentially go back to the drawing board and really struggle with the best way to relay the voice, the story. How can I consider myself a writer, when so much of my life is spent not-writing?
Well, enough of that. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few weeks and I’ve come to a few conclusions: first of all, I am not quitting my job to write from home anytime in the near future. I believe I have a commitment to my marriage to continue working until such time as my writing earns an actual living – others can disagree, but I have always been determined to contribute to things like savings and retirement – S. should not carry that burden alone. Furthermore, my job is the one that provides with health insurance. So, secondly, if I am not going to quit my job, I have to accept there will be weeks where my process is derailed. I HAVE to be okay with that – no more guilt. The important thing – the long-term thing – is to return to it after the derailment – much like exercising. Three or four days passing by without writing because of a work crisis is fine – three or four months well after the crisis has passed, is not. Thirdly, I need to stop feeling sorry for myself, and I need to let go of the envy I feel of my work-from-home-writer friends. I’ve spoken with many of them over the course of the last few weeks and one thing I do know is the grass is definitely not greener on their side of the fence. The economy and the dynamic state of publishing is a challenge to even the most talented freelance writer.
And so. I know I need the creative process in my life – I always have. The form has changed from year to year – but the process of creating – a piece of writing, acting in a play, taking a dance class – it fills the spaces in between. I’ not going to give that up. What I am going to give up is all the attendant guilt, the expectations of myself to write 40 pages a week no matter what – I am going to engage with the process instead of resent it.
Now, if you’ve read this whole piece, have I got a reward for you. Last week I spent a goodly amount of time working my way through both my novel and my manuscript from graduate school, and the other random writing I have completed over the years. During this great mid-winter organization/cleaning binge, I came across several half-completed journals I kept throughout graduate school – it seems I would write in one for a while, only to abandon it when another, prettier, more appealing journal came along. I don’t generally write poetry, except for one semester in high school and, of course, rhyming silly things in my head, but apparently I was found myself bored enough during a lecture on Kant to try my hand at it. I have no idea what the initial inspiration for this truly terrible bad poem was, but I do know the process of writing it offered me a chance to escape, to dream – and if that is all writing ever provides me, then I am one lucky woman, indeed.
scribbled at the top: Kant/Victorian novel/blah blah blah who cares. I bet Kant didn’t even care.
“Call me Paul,” he said.
And I did, scared to mangle
the intricate Arabic syllables
that created his name.
Through chrome-colored mornings
we rode the bus together.
He told me about his father’s bank,
swathed in sunlight somewhere east.
“This is Paul,” he said, calling
me on the phone one night.
In the background I heard
beer-soaked laughter and
I thought about the silver rings
he always wore.
“Do you like Julia Roberts?” He asks
The rain smeared against the window
and he traced zigzags in the steam.
“You remind me a bit of her,
the way you laugh, it’s nice.”
I let his cheek brush mine
and for a moment
linger there. I shut my eyes.
I imagined a whole life.
Based on a true story. You’re welcome, people. Happy Friday.