As I was searching Google for some pictures to use on the front of a journal packet I am creating for my students, I came upon this quote today:
"When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”
It is a funny thing to think that my life's work has been filled with only odd jobs. For various reasons (O.K. I like to eat and have a car) I have not been able to make writing my sole profession.
And yet, I think I have all the makings of a writer. I dream about writing, not just in a metaphorical way, but actually dream about writing. It wakes me up with story lines and ideas, conversations and colors; the way people look and the spaces they inhabit, bits and pieces of information. And I allow my brain to absorb all of this and save it away, in a safe place, for the next time I can find the time to sit down and put pencil to paper, or in reality, fingers to keyboard. Then I hope I can remember it all; the nuances, the right person saying the right thing, the brilliant idea I had for one pure sentence.
One of my favorite authors is Anne Lamott. In her book Bird by Bird she writes about writing: "You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on the computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind -- a scene, a locale, a character, whatever -- and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”
I have had those moments but only in college when I had to write essays on topics I didn't particularly want to write about. I wanted to be writing on my thoughts and ideas. I didn't want to waste time on the academic process. But that was where I was at the time. I had to accomplish that in a timely manner, now, and then I would have time to write, really write. I don't have those moments now when I sit down to write. The words and sentences flow on the paper, usually so quickly that I have to really slow down or it would look like a toddler playing on a keyboard.
And I have written over the years, but not as much or as often as I would like. Life gets in my way.
Now, especially since I have started this blog, I am writing on a more regular basis. I want to write. there is an intrinsic need inside of me to write. When I don't blog for awhile I get an anxious feeling inside, kind of like the butterflies people get when they are going into an unknown situation. I think about writing. I try to scrape out time to write. And like an addict, once I write I feel o.k. for a time. But not very long. Sometimes only a day. Many times I want to write again in an hour. But the responsibilities of life won't allow me.
I cave to the responsible me. Sometimes I justify it but many times I think I am a coward. I think that if I was serious about writing, I would scrape out time and make writing a priority. that if I really wanted to be a writer, I would make it happen. I would figure out what is really stopping me and fix it. I would trade in my "odd job" of writing and make it my only work.