It’s a cold morning. I did glance up and see the entire east sky a rather disconcerting shade of pink behind the cedars, a sight so arresting I watched until the color bled away. It didn’t take long–Aurora is a vibrant goddess, but she moves very quickly. By the time she’s gone and Sol has fully risen–and in winter, he fills my office with his morning glow for a brief fifteen minutes before going about the rest of his business–I am settled and chipping words out of my cranium, one at a time.
Of course, the temptation to get up and start wandering the house, or to sit and stare or surf the glorious interwebs, is stronger on some days. Today’s one of them. I have a serious case of the “I don’t fucking want to”s. Even this post–the words you’re reading this moment–are a form of procrastination. At least with a blog I feel like I have to write at least something on a semi-regular basis, and it often serves as sort of a throat-clearing for the day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my advice to people who “want to be writers.” I say “do it every day, then. No day is so busy that you don’t have ten minutes to write. Writers write, writers write daily.” This is usually met by howls of indignation–how dare you tell me when to write, how dare you imply I’m not a writer if I don’t write every day! I mostly just shrug at that point, because, well, it’s time to get back to work. I realize there are professionals who don’t write “every day,” but you weren’t asking them for advice, you were asking me, and I say, write every fucking day.
Now, many people will take that for an answer and go think about it, but there’s always those charming individuals who start howling afresh. “But what if I’ve been in/on a car accident/earthquake/hospital/alien starship examining table, huh? WHAT THEN?” Well, then you’ve got some great fucking material. That upheaval in your normal life is going to affect a lot of stuff. Writing is part of a writer’s normal daily life; if your daily life is all fucked up by catastrophe, fine, get that settled and go back to writing.
“BUT WHAT IF MY LIFE NEVER GETS SETTLED?” Then you need to rethink things, honey, but that’s not my problem. You asked me about being a writer. There are people who live on crisis, there are even people who adrenaline-junkie thrive on it. (I should know, I was one.) If your crises are constant, maybe look at what need of yours is getting fulfilled by that constant emotional upheaval–and start writing that shit down.
Usually, once my questioner has gotten themselves worked up to the point of “what if my life never gets settled?” I disengage. At that point, it’s not about writing, it’s about my questioner wanting me to validate them on some emotional level I don’t have the energy to coddle anyone but my kids or occasionally very close friends through, and they’ve picked writing as a subject in order to get their indignation addiction fed or some sort of emotional tea-and-cookies session. I am considering a change in my behavior here, to disengage at least one step earlier, at the “what if I’ve been abducted by aliens” point.
Life is never going to be “settled,” for you or me or anyone else. You’re never going to “feel like it.” I never do either, despite writing being a deep psychological (almost physical) need, as well as the means by which I feed my dependents and my book habit. It’s a daily struggle. I enlist habit and discipline as allies to get that need (and my mortgage payment) met. It is extremely simple, but never easy.
There, throat-clearing done. Now that I’ve given myself this stern reminder as well, I have to go back to Cal and Trinity, and get him shot and her arrested. It certainly helps that I enjoy my job on days like this.
Over and out.