The writing is not happening. Even though I try not to get caught up in the New Year’s resolution “live your best life” hoopla, every January I still secretly think maybe this is the year I will finally get my shit together. But here’s the thing about shit: it likes to spread itself around and stink up everything. And once it gets into the carpet, well, it’s never coming out. Too much? Right, too much. My point is, I will never have my shit together because life is messy and unpredictable and I have to learn to deal with it. (A zen master I am not.) However, I’m not a victim of circumstance either. I can buy some bleach and get a new carpet. What I need to do first is get real about my writing process and what I need in order to make the writing happen. So I made a list, and I’m sharing it with you here because the Internet loves lists almost as much as cat videos and trolling.
It’s funny that my compulsion and decision to write came simultaneously with having children. The moment I lost control of my time, and my emotions started to run a little more wild is the moment I picked up the pen and paper. I took control of words in a way I didn’t feel like I could control my life anymore.
After the birth of my second child I decided to take a writing class. This soon turned into a writing practice that has become one of the driving forces in my life. Doing this while working full time and raising two children is not easy. There are times when the guilt I feel for deciding to take the time to write is overwhelming.
I was going to write about self-care this week, and what a racket it is. But then the fires came and destroyed my hometown, and Harvey Weinstein was finally removed from his literal and figurative position on top of all of the women of Hollywood. I started to think about why we need to write.
Last time I wrote about giving ourselves permission to write. Now I find myself thinking about why we need to write in the first place, and why we have to remind ourselves of this every day.
Last month Jessica wrote about her struggle to read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. She never did make it through the whole text—and unless you are the worst kind of nerdy English major, it is a tedious read. Nevertheless, she found that in her middle age she had gained an appreciation for Woolf’s central point:
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write.
Because I am that worst sort of English major—one who attended a small liberal arts college in the countryside and lazed away the hours in the local cafe reading, drinking black coffee, and smoking cheap cigarettes—Jessica’s post inspired me to try and reread Woolf’s treatise. I wanted to see if my 43 year old writing self would respond to her arguments differently than did my 20 year old self.
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ― Oscar Wilde
Write about it.
Want to be liked? Get ready to relegate yourself to last place. Get ready to spend your hours studying what pleases people and then more minutes, hours, days to dedicate your life to doing that, the thing everyone likes. Last-place-people work hard. The pathological need for external approval is silencing us.
Write about that pathology.
I have learned an important writing lesson this summer: it’s impossible to write in your spare time. It is impossible because spare time is a myth.