For minutes at a stretch, I hole myself up at the dining room table, hunched over, feverishly pecking away at the keys. Then it’s gone, that train of thoughts I’m inexplicably compelled to board and then disparagingly alight just as mysteriously.
Do other passions treat their passengers this way? I wonder about writing, and writers.
I decide it’s time to drift off with a sip of hot tea that’s gone stone cold because drinking it at its hot prime would have required me to actually remove half of my fingers from the keyboard, and somehow that just wouldn’t be right, or correct.
I have only eternal gratitude for my grade seven typing teacher, Mr. Whoever he is now.
I’m stuck on the platform, alone, waiting for this train that seems as if it’ll never arrive. So how will I? I gaze out into the pouring rain that I’d just now sensed had been keeping time with my own tap, tap, tapping all along, flooding me with words, right ones too.
I suppose all writers worry about the well running dry.” — Richard Russo
Suddenly I’m lurched forward, and my fingers begin flying again, with the opposable digit on the right side keeping that familiar, offbeat rhythm that comes from word choice and length, a strange, primal music to the writer within. She’s arrived.
And then, someone dares to step through the invisible, fourth wall of the dining room. It’s an ugly moment, this instance of being snapped back into this surreal world in which I’m not a writer. It feels wholly unnatural, even threatening at times.
I snarl inside, though I’m ashamed to admit it.
This animal writer accepts her state of grace.
It’s a double life we writers live, especially if writing isn’t yet a livelihood. Yet there’s such hope in that little word, yet.
An unpaid writer has to get out there and live.
And work. And parent. And spouse (it seems like a verb at times). And grocery shop. And cook. And clean. And hope to experience, real or imagined, something, anything that’ll knock my arse right back into the chair and just write.
For years my real, everyday life usurped this writing life. And I allowed it to. I believed that working and parenting and spousing (a real and present participle verb) and shopping and cooking and cleaning were of greater importance.
No longer do I believe that, no matter what my mind and its voice of reason might think. Writing has beckoned to me all these years. And for good reason. I’ve finally answered its call. And it’s brought happiness to me, and to others.
I’m a much happier human because I write.
Still, an unpaid writer has to steal away from her everyday life, mere minutes at a time. I write as often as I dare, right beside the loads of laundry, piles of paperwork, and soot sprites.
I write without hearing the tea kettle whistle. I write without hearing the pleads of others.
It’s simply the way of this unpaid writing life.
It’s a double-edged sort of double life. At the same time life stops this writer, it gives her such fodder, such as it is. Right now, I write short pieces about my simple life. It’s enough.
These short stretches of writing seem to sustain the writer within, the animal, and me too.
Is there a wild one within you who’s compelled to create? Do you live a double life of sorts? How do you trek through both?