What is Real Writing? What ‘Counts’?
September 24, 2012 § 21 Comments
A day for promises and beginnings believed. On Monday, things will be different again.
I woke up with the dark because I was chilly, but I was pleased. How wonderful! I’m awake before my alarm. I listened to The Writer’s Almanac, as is my morning habit I’ve decided.
I woke again at 8am to discover I’d fallen asleep. The whole day since has been a question mark. It is National Punctuation Day so it is fitting, I can see that, but still.
Did I sleep in? I’m not sure. I slept past seven, which is the hour I had intended to wake. I slept till eight, which will not do at all and I was very unhappy and filled with fog and disappointment. Does it count that at six I was listening to a poem about sparrows and receiving a reminder that it would be Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday had he failed to die?
What matters? What counts?
Never mind old bean. Forget about this small false start. Carry on old chap. Drink your tea. Eat your porridge.
(I make my porridge – or oatmeal as you might call it – overnight in the slow cooker. This small act of forethought and readiness for each morrow makes me inordinately happy and pleased with myself. If nothing else, I seem to say as I switch it on low and anticipate tomorrow’s warm creaminess, I have achieved this one thing that I know is good for me, both in this prudent moment and again in the morning, each spoonful deliberate and delicious.)
I was going to Write today.
First, I checked my inbox and there was a letter from a friend. Why do I continue to call one set of sentences an Email and another – delivered by the same medium – a Letter? Content, I suppose. Meaningful, engaging, carefully composed sentences perhaps. I have not had a penpal in years. I continued to write letters until it became not so much painfully unbearable but embarrassing that I received none in return. I think about all of the things that were and are done or not done only from fear of embarrassment and I feel ashamed.
I decided to reply to my friend’s questions and concerns at a later time. After all, I had planned to get some Writing done today and I was already so far behind after waking up so early and waking up so late.
Then, another question came to me and, in answer, I set aside my Writing and I set aside my plans and only slightly worried that Writing will never be my number one priority. I pressed Reply and though not in exactly these words, I said something like Dear Friend.
Many hours later, I did worry and, frustrated, I counted all the things today that were not I Prioritizing Writing.
I counted the hours: One and a bit, I fell back to sleep. Half or so for tea and porridge. Three and a half. Typing typing typing. Head bent low. Deliberate. Thoughtful. Engaged. My dear friend. Three and a half hours! On an email?
And I counted the words: One thousand, five hundred and forty. The number of words I removed because they were not precisely what I wished to say to them, were too indulgent, whose tangents were needless though not untrue or even all that bad.
Two thousand and eighty-four is the number of words that finally said something like life is a beautiful and terrifying risk but we must.
I was hungry, then. It was after noon. I heated some dal, bit down on a cardamom pod; it was not unpleasant and yet I spat it out. Why? So many questions. Suddenly, it was one and I should have finished Writing by now and ready to put on my running shoes.
My sister phoned from Ireland then. We hadn’t planned on it but we spoke for an hour and sometimes she even listened as I begged her to hear me say something like Trust. Believe. Just Breathe. Do not ever worry. I love you. I love you. Oh Just Get Over It.
I’m still in my pajamas.
It’s almost four.
Nothing went the way.
May as well salvage something with a blog post.
(What is real Writing? What are words for unless to cheer a heart on or shake someone you love and fear for? What counts? What counts as me being the person-writer I want to be? Oh, when will I ever do one fucking thing that I say I’m going to?)