Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Writing Life

There have been times in the past when you have wished for days such as today and when you have had them.  There were times when you feared you might never have them again, needing instead to pry spare moments when you could find them.

You were up early, the coffee made, the toast slathered with peanut butter and some agreeable pomegranate jam, an orange peeled, a large smear of cottage cheese added on for protein.  By seven thirty, you were at your desk.  It is now just short of sixteen hours later.  With short breaks for making more coffee and preparing snacks for Sally, you have been at it continuously.  Finish with the last round of editorial notes and suggestions for your book, which the editor made in response to your revisions on the first editorial pass.  In essence, you've added twelve more pages after cutting a tad under five hundred words.  The completed manuscript that went off to copyedit today is 524 pages, including the bibliography.

Thus today you have set the text off to copyedit, done your review--The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield--and now this, over a tall glass of iced grapefruit juice laced with Campari bitters.

Days such as this were days you longed for when you had to struggle to make time to get in a page or two.  And when, in the past, you had days such as this, with nothing but writing, you did not yearn for the office, for meetings and editorial conferences.

Day after tomorrow, the writers' conference begins.  You host the late night fiction workshop, which could mean the week is going to be largely lost to you, your opportunities to get at your novel not looking healthy, your chances of keeping your string of uninterrupted essays here in jeopardy.

The writing life means writers' conferences, the speaking engagements relative to your book, already being penciled in, as necessary adjuncts, but today meant being here for sixteen hours, with your dog, your thoughts, your ideas, and sentences that go bump in the night.  Such days are the spine of the writing life.

Such days are not days for swimming or long walks or long showers or even shaving, nor are they days for preparing elaborate meals; they are days for the delightful application of words onto electronic pages almost as though they were go-carts in the carnivals you used to work for, bumping against one another in bursts of spirited attempts to get answers for questions you never realized you had.