I have a huge problem with writing. It’s a huge distraction from the rest of my life.
The best writers were introverts, right? Burrowing away like hermits in horrible climates (extreme heat or cold are the best environments) and painstakingly digging away at their craft. The castoff papers piling up around them, the ashtray filling with butts, while personal relationships withered and brittled until they broke off. Nowadays, it’s pounding away at a laptop being “alone in the masses” at a bland coffee shop. Headphones, always. Missed dinners and canceled appointments, all for the love of the craft.
My problem with writing is that I like a whole lot of other stuff way too much. Like people. I love people.
I mean, obviously I hate people because the masses bring us things like Kardashians and Donald Trump. (The punchlines of most jokes nowadays, I know.) But really, I love people. I love to be around them. Being marooned on a deserted island is one of my genuine fears. Castaway was a horror film.
I love writing, but I also love people and social gatherings and cooking and crafty little projects and working in an office and all of those things that get solidly in the way of writing. Short of locking myself away in a harsh climate – which, let’s face it, I kind of already did – I am just not someone who can sit alone for hours and hours of the day, everyday, and chip away at a grand masterpiece.
My method of writing (especially freelance work) is not at all thought out but it’s worked for me for years. I research and research and dump a whole lot of unnecessary but fascinating info into a document and then begin to sift through it. I pull out the bits that seem the most relevant and dump those into another document and connect them with a whole bunch of mishmash words. Sometimes those connections are tenuous as hell, but I make them happen. This draft result is very messy and sometimes I have nightmares that I’ll accidentally submit the first draft and not the final draft of an article and clients will be frightened.
And then I go take a shower. Experiment with a new face moisturizer. Curl my hair. Play Words With Friends while brewing some tea. Remember that we’re out of tea and walk to the store. Spend twenty glorious minutes in the magazine aisle and then remember I have a stack of subscriptions at home from February that I haven’t touched yet. Come back home, go to make tea and realize the kitchen floor is disgusting. Sweep, mop, then decide the litter boxes need to be cleaned. Might as well throw in a load of laundry while I’m at it. Find a business card in the pocket of one of my jeans and realize I need to send this person an email – right now. Go back to computer, pull up Facebook, fall down a rabbit hole of cat videos.
Four hours later, I’m ready to resume work on whatever it is on the docket for the day. And then I start to chip away at the mess I made earlier, thesaurus the hell out of sentences and moving this thought to later in the article and this other thought to earlier. I agonize over word choice – “anyone” or “everyone?” What am I trying to say? Is this title supposed to be capitalized?
Another hour or so of that and then I am in need of human contact. Coffee with a friend. An episode of Nurse Jackie (which I just discovered ended abruptly after Season 7 WHAT AM I GOING TO DO). Plans for the evening. Dinner out, drinks, probably ending with another episode of Nurse Jackie (SERIOUSLY WHAT AM I GOING TO DO, oh wait – I haven’t started HOC Season 4 yet, ok SAVED) and then bed. Wake up the next morning, do it all over again.
It’s not that I lack focus or passion. It’s simply that I see writing as an archeological dig through a mess of words dumped on a page to find the true article underneath. And as it begins to emerge and take shape, the excitement builds and so too do the chores I can think up to distract myself. Writing requires a lot of physical activity in between the actual writing.
I’m in the midst of a potential career shift as I ponder making a go of the freelance world again and realize that – already – I miss multiple projects and people and the structure of the workday. Working from home is a treat once in awhile, but doing so everyday gets to me. So how to marry my love of writing with my need for a more structured work environment that’s populated by colleagues I’ll soon grow to love to hate? (Just kidding, former coworkers. You know I love you. Most of the time.)
For now, though, we’re just over two weeks back in the country and it’s still hectic hotel life and house buying and figuring shit out.
Speaking of career moves, my girl Courtney has a great post about her struggle with Ikigai over on her Ann Benjamin author’s page. A timely post for me considering my current state of flux, but then she’s always a step or two ahead. We’re all just searching for that ideal life, our own Ikigai.