Friday, March 02, 2007

It's almost noon, have you written today?


"A writer is someone who has written today."

A friend, who teaches college, is a poet and wife and raising two small children sent me that quote by email the other day. She said since reading it, it's changed her --she is now making a point to write every day, despite her time constraints, her busy schedule, her laundry, her job, her life.

The quote changed me too. Before my eye concerns in December, I was someone who wrote every day. Many times, I wrote "starts" to poems that never really went anyplace, but sometimes they did. Sometimes I worked on my children's book. Sometimes I started a new and crazy project, sometimes I wrote an article. But the point was, I was writing. I was a writer.Since getting out of my old habits, I haven't been writing much in the last couple months. In fact, I've noticed this disturbing trend where I choose other things over my writing—I’ve never done this before. Writing has always been the one thing when I'm doing it, that I don't think "Oh, I should be doing this..." and now I'm trying to avoid it? What am I afraid of? Am I just out of habit?

I've been talking like a writer and acting like a poet, but I haven’t been "in that flow" of writing, something that become an important and essential part of my day for many years up until December--like an athlete constantly training for her event, I showed up to my computer daily. Sometimes with energy and ideas, sometimes not. But every day, I wrote. Even if it was only 15 minutes before bedtime, I took whatever slice the day gave me.

So I think about saying that-- "I'm a poet," or "I'm a writer," and how easily we can throw around those terms. I don't say, "I'm a gymnast" because I was one in school, “I’m a softball player” because I wore a uniform and played second base, I don’t even say "I'm a violinist" because I took lessons for 7 years, but haven't picked up a violin for 5 years due to it warping in the garage from moisture. Yet I've been calling myself a writer or poet when I haven't been writing poems or much of anything.

I'm taking my job of writer more seriously again, I’m making myself *earn* that title. In the morning, I flip over my handmade "Writer at Work" on my door, grab a cup of coffee (black) and begin. If I find myself starting to be distracted with other things, I focus more deeply.

I'm even thinking of going to Home Depot and getting those big vinyl letters and putting that across my wall: A writer is someone who has written today.

Yesterday, even pressed for time due to the snow, I wrote a lot in a short period of time. I was in that place where time was the spinning hands of a clock on the wall and what I saw were the words in front of me as they fell across the page.

Yes, I'm returning to my life as a writer--not a student, a title that will be leaving me soon, or a "hobbyist," I term I've always disliked for anyone who writes. I'm not content to be a "dabbler," to be the person who "almost" wrote a poem--though this will happen to me many times. I need to be the writer who shows up and sees what happens and not fall into the complacency trap or become the procrastinator you meet at parties-"I'm planning on writing a novel someday..." Let me tell you, someday will never come because it's not today; it's a future place where a novel lies in bits and pieces. It will never be some day or soon, it will never been next week, or next weekend, or when the kids are bigger, or I'm retired. I'm realizing that the moment is today to be a writer.

Why I believe time is this limitless entity--well, it is, but I'm not. I'm a temporary fingerprint on its window. And I realize much of being a writer, is habit, is showing up and writing. I'm not going to be easy on myself if I want to call myself a writer or a poet, a writer or poet is one that has written today...and that's the deal I'll make with myself. I will write today.

3 comments:

Nick said...

I presently find myself in a similar predicament. Thanks for this post.

Valerie Loveland said...

Great post!

Lyle Daggett said...

My writing process is such that much of the work I do is back-burner -- I sometimes need to let poems cook a long time before I start putting them on paper.

As I'm going through each day -- sitting in a cubicle at work, or at home in the evening, or in a coffee shop a block from the office for a few minutes before I start work -- I always have my poem notebooks open in front of me, or nearby, to a half-finished poem in progress or, sometimes, to a blank page. I let the blank space on the page work on my senses, however subliminally.

From time to time during the day I'll pick up the notebook and write something. Or I might re-read the poem-in-progress in front of me, and nothing is coming out yet, so I let it sit some more and go back to it again.

The writing process may have some superficial differences from one person to another -- one person writes at a computer, another on paper, one person writes multiple drafts and pieces them together, another works line by line crossing out and rewriting. But yes, writing every day, even if it's "back burner" writing, even if I'm just staring at a blank page for a few minutes here and there, has always been essential to me.

Thanks for posting this.

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