Writing Week Day #2: But I Have a Day Job

Starbucks in Seoul South Korea

But I Have a Day Job

I have a couple fantasies of the perfect places to write. Some days it’s a coffee shop in an exotic place where the perfect latte sits next to a shiny new laptop with the ubiquitous acoustic strains of some indie singer/songwriter wafting gently around me and I’m high on a heady brew of creativity and expensive caffeine. Other times, I might be sitting by the ocean with a gentle breeze and the smell of salt in the air as the gulls scream around me and my pondering of the imponderables mixes with the crash and hiss of the surf. I have no idea if people actually do write in these kinds of places — truth is I never have.

The reality is that I have an ailing wife and two small children. I have a stressful day job that requires long hours. I don’t write in a coffee shop, or a seaside bistro, or a smoky Hemingway bar. I write in the break room at work. I write at the DMV. I write while folding laundry or doing the dishes or stuck in traffic. I write while waiting for my wife at a doctor’s office. I write at the end of the day before I close my eyes and at the beginning right after I open them. I can write in all those places because actually typing out words is only about one-tenth of the actual work of creativity. Most of writing is simply the discipline of stopping your mind from slipping into neutral while you live the rest of your life. Writing is life and life is being composed all around you every day.

Since I’ve been writing in multiple places this year I’ve found that there is one benefit (along with many, many challenges) to writing in more than one venue. Writing more than one project doubles the chances that when your child throws a screaming fit in Chuck E. Cheese’s or a massive bill shows up in the mail that you’ll likely get a chance to use it creatively one way or another. I’m sure I’ll figure out someday how to use the story of how I had to borrow money from a very kind co-worker this week in order to buy a new battery for my truck. Someday that will make a great post.

There is a warning here: it’s possible to go too far down the creative rabbit hole and only see the world around you as the sum of the content that it will provide you. Not every story must be shared. Not every bit of human drama is an appropriate time to find your muse — but much of it can be. A mind that is awake will be able to discern the difference.

What happened to you this week? Is there something that’s worth sharing? Write it now even if you have to do the typing later.

59 thoughts on “Writing Week Day #2: But I Have a Day Job”

  1. I write. But not as much as I did. I got started on a blog/message board that I once was honored to have been asked to admin. I’ve done a guest post since then on a friend’s blog, but most of what I write is targeted to a specific audience and is usually on facebook. Sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it?

    I guess it’s important to mention that I often make people mad with the content and subject matter of what I observe and then feel a need to write about, because I feel that sometimes that’s the only way to get them talking about a subject that I feel is important to examine and discuss. Lately, it’s been why so much concentration is placed on why a victim of sexual abuse shouldn’t report it to the authorities instead of why they should. In general, people do NOT like to discuss this, and I’ve found that unless their cage is rattled a little, they are very dismissive of the topic.

    Here is a question. Is it wrong to write about controversial issues in the social networking realm in hopes that a REAL writer/journalist/reporter will become interested and take up the subject? I’ve seen it happen. It’s happened to me. But not about this latest subject matter.

    1. Just my personal, unvarnished opinion: A sexual abuse victim “should” do whatever he or she thinks/believes is right/best for him/her. I dislike the idea of pressuring someone who has already been put in a pretty powerless position to do or not to do something that he or she may not be ready for or interested in.

      1. Yep. That’s pretty much the consensus. No one wants to discuss what happens to a victim, years down the road, having to realize and deal with the fact that their silence left the abuser wide open to continue abusing. It’s just a “let’s not discuss this subject” kinda subject. No one wants to approach the fact that it’s not best for future helpless kids. But I digress.

        1. “No one wants to discuss what happens to a victim, years down the road, having to realize and deal with the fact that their silence left the abuser wide open to continue abusing.”

          And while I understand this line of thought, everything in me recoils from placing any kind of blame for a perpetrator’s actions on a victim.

        2. Yep. Also part of the general consensus. Calling it “blaming”. I guess if there is any blame to place, it should be on those that avoid trying to gently explain, as well as support a victim, in how staying silent perpetuates the cycle of abuse, and their choice to remain silent isn’t just about them.

        3. Gentle encouragement is fine. Coercion,strong-arming, bullying and forcing is not.

          And it is indeed blaming when you make a victim responsible for someone else’s actions or for stopping another person’s actions. Sometimes healing and moving on challenges every fiber of a victim’s being. Going through the legal system — a legal system that has failed time and time again to mete out justice, I will add — may be more than he or she can handle at the time. I do not in any way agree and never will agree that the means justifies the ends.

    2. Reporting a sex offender does not always mean that they are brought to justice. Quite often there is little or no physical evidence due to the passage of time. This renders DNA collection impossible.

      Either way, an investigation is completed, the police report written and submitted to the district attorney for screening. Due to understaffing and crowded court dockets, DAs often don’t take cases to trial that are not good bets for a conviction.

      So telling a victim that reporting a crime will prevent further victimization is an oversimplification–and frankly, it’s writing a check that cannot necessarily be cashed.

      1. “So telling a victim that reporting a crime will prevent further victimization is an oversimplification–and frankly, it’s writing a check that cannot necessarily be cashed.”

        You’re absolutely right, Bald. That’s why I didn’t say that. What I said was that a victim’s silence helps keep the cycle of abuse going. That’s not stated to put the blame on anyone. It’s stated because it’s the rule rather than the exception.

        My personal report most likely won’t send anyone to prison. It happened a long time ago, before I was even a teenager, with no physical evidence. I had no guarantee that anyone would believe me if I told, and growing up in the IFB, I knew what the ramifications would have been if I had told at that time, so I get that part.

        I’m an adult now. As a kid, I was never told that sexual abusers arent likely to have only one victim. I blamed myself for it happening. But even after telling someone, I was left alone to deal with the realization that my not telling may have very well caused it to continue happening. Personally, I don’t think it was fair to leave me to come to that realization myself, especially having to deal with the fact that my abusers had could have had more victims after me. Why was I left alone to deal with that? But not only do I feel that it wasn’t fair to me personally, neither was it fair to anyone else these men might have violated. I decided to make my report for THEM. If anyone else has the proper support and is responsibly given the facts about the consequences of not reporting and they report these men like I did, guess what? They won’t be all by themselves.

        1. Tbird, thank you for speaking your truth. First please let me say how very sorry I am for what happened to you. I was not trying to tell you how to feel or think about this issue. I was really just expressing my own frustration about the system that I’ve worked in for decades.

          I well remember a little 18 month old girl, molested before she had language skills. She couldn’t tell me who molested her—who had put her in the hospital with such physical trauma. I was the police investigator on the case. I still remember narrowing it down to three persons of interest. Two of them were her uncles, identical twins. The other was her grandfather. DNA had not been recovered due to a lag in reporting of the crime. It wouldn’t have been much help due to the blood relationships of the persons of interest, and to the state of DNA forensics at that time. The case eventually was suspended because we just couldn’t isolate the suspect beyond a reasonable doubt. It haunted me for years. Much later, I heard that she was able to speak her truth in counseling, and that the police investigation had been reopened. I was hundreds of miles away then, working for another agency. That was 15 years ago, and it still haunts me.

          Children should always speak their truth, even if it’s decades later. Some children have gone on to beat the odds, to bring justice to their molesters, even if through civil lawsuits. I’m very proud of your for standing up, for reporting the crime. God has blessed you with great strength, courage, and a strong will.

        2. TBird,

          Seriously, God bless you and congratutions on surviving the ordeal and having the courage to come forward even years later.

          You mentioned that you knew what ramifications you could have expected if you had reported the abuse at the time it occurred. Do you feel that no one would have believed you and that there would have been some sort of retaliation from your abuser? Do you also think that people in your old church would have understood 1 Corinthians 6:6,7 to teach that no one claiming to be a “Christian” should be reported to the civil authorities regardless of how heinous the crime they committed was?

          All the Best,

        3. Ben, that’s a really good question. I am not a psychologist. I have heard from one pediatrician that they didn’t believe that a child’s memory worked accurately until the child had words to frame those memories with. Who can say?

          I remember having worked a sexual abuse of a little girl, another too young to have developed language. Several years later her mother told me that the victim (her daughter) told her that a man (a relative whom she named)was appearing to her in her dreams, scaring her. He had been one of the original suspects. Memory is a hell of a tricky thing.

          I know this doesn’t answer your question. I wish I knew the answer. Maybe it varies from child to child.

        4. No need to thank me, and especially no need to apologize for it happening. What I think I deserve an apology for is someone not having the guts to fill me in on why I should report when I finally confided that info. How dare they keep such important info from me. How dare they assume that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I had to come to that realization ALONE! I felt just as alone in realizing what being quiet meant as I did when I had been abused. I made that report with no help or support from anyone. All I read and heard from people was “We know how devastating it can be if you report, so you shouldn’t do it until you’re ready, if you’re ever ready at all,” and such crap as that. I have come to accept the notion that telling victims of abuse this sort of thing is leaving us not much else but to see it continue, especially with the general opinion being that a victim doesn’t need to hear this because we all KNOW they can’t handle the truth of it. We DON’T know! It seems that a victim of abuse gets more support in making the choice to NOT TELL, rather than having the support and resources they deserve and need to come to terms with being told the truth. And not only does an abuse victim deserve to have those who want to help them be unabatedly truthful, but even more, future victims who end up in the abuser’s crosshairs deserve it just as much. What other way is there to increase the likelihood that their abuser will be stopped?

          The “good for yous” and “I’m sorry this happened to you” is one of the reasons I was hesitant for so long to even say anything about reporting what happened to me. What I did shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the RULE! The only thing that should have been done differently is that somebody should have had the gonads to make SURE that I understood what not reporting perpetuates, instead of leaving me to come to that realization on my own, as well as deal with it on my own. If I had the truth laid out to me by someone else, then I would have had the proper info much sooner and been able to make a truly informed choice as to what I should do, instead of being left in the dark so long.

        5. Speaking solely as an adult survivor of a rape- you can bet I reported it. I was terrified, and the whole mess- the rape, the trial, and everything around it- was a disaster. But I pressed charges and I stuck to it even when it was hard. Because I was angry and I was determined that that particular man was not going to hurt another woman if I had anything to say about it.

          He got 12 years. Served 2 1/2, got out, did it again within a year. In the meantime though the law had changed, and he got a longer sentence. He’s out now, and bouncing from shelter to shelter downtown. I’m not sure that i could face him without vomiting, but if he threatened my daughters or granddaughters, there would be blood spilt. And not mine.

          In understand that some victims aren’t in a place to fight back through the legal system. But those that can, should. It won’t stop if there are no consequences. Standing up and saying NO is the first step.

  2. For a variety of reasons, I really enjoy this website and have found it extremely interesting and personally useful in helping me to reflect on many issues; that being said, I find the puerile nonsense of comments such as “first”, “second”, “third” to be absolutely anal-retentive, extremely off-putting and itself indicative of the worst kind of small-mindedness with which fundamentalism is often accused! Please stop it!!!!

    1. I find that people who obsess about stopping someone else’s fun is indicative of a sour puss. And I don’t even care for the first game.

    2. Bishop, the “first” posts that you find so juvenile are nothing more than a joke. It pokes fun at the fundy MOG tendency to seek the preeminence in all things. At first I found them off-putting (perhaps because I never made first?) but then came to understand the people and the atmosphere better. Of course, I’ve had a few firsts now myself. 😉 STILL WAITING FOR THE BUTT CUSHIONS, NATALIE!!!!!!!!!!

    3. lol, I’ve always found the “first!!!” stuff to be silly. So I just don’t do it. If other people get enjoyment out of it, awesome. Finding fun and happiness in the little things in life keeps us young and healthy. 🙂

    4. Shared inside jokes are a part of nearly every online community. I’ve seen these jokes flourish for twenty-five years now. Some people are aggravated by this whole “first-commenter” thing (e.g., the xkcd author), but it’s not going away. I might go for “puerile”, but not the “small-minded, anal-retentive” part. Now if they had a scoreboard….
      Hey. I could go for that. 😎 Just like a steampunk badminton tournament.

      Chill. Smile.

      1. Don used to give out a first fifth for those who got their fifth firsts, if that counts as a scoreboard!

        1. I didn’t realize anyone kept score. But then, I only have two or three, and none of them were claimed as first, just a cheery “good morning” with the smug satisfaction of beating everyone else to the punch.
          Except Darrell.

        2. I think it was based on the honor system of self reporting it was your fifth first. We’re very strict around here.


      It is wonderful to find a kindred spirit who is also perturbed by the peurile postings placed by people pursuing preeminence. Sadly, such outrages are not limited to SFL. For example, I often notice that after buying a paper, in addition to news and other useful information, I come across columnists whose opinions differ from my own correct ones.

      Even in the funny pages, although there are comics I find amusing, there are others that I do not find entertaining and those should naturally be removed from the paper. Beetle Bailey for instance, Beetle has been in the army for over 60 years and he’s still a private. It offends me that this comic hasn’t long ago been retired. Don’t even get me started on Dick Tracy and Blondie. Alas, thus far I have not had your courage to stand up and demand that those newspaper publishers fire the columnists with whom I disagree and replace all the comics that I do not find funny.

      Keep up the good fight my friend and continue your work of stamping out those trifling annoyances that have such a profound effect on all of our lives.

  3. I know what you mean about writing everywhere and at all times. The actual typing it out is only a small part isn’t it?


  4. “Most of writing is simply the discipline of stopping your mind from slipping into neutral while you live the rest of your life. Writing is life and life is being composed all around you every day.”

    So much this. I’m glad my husband understands that even when I’m looking off into space with a blank look on my face, I’m likely still working. Otherwise, he might get annoyed. 😛

  5. “A mind that is awa…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  6. A good friend of mine is farily successful novelist (in that his published books have been praised by critics and sold fairly well).
    It’s kind of strange to sit with him in a restarant or coffee shop because he’s always busy eavesdropping on conversations at other tables, to gather material he can use in stories he writes.
    He does come out with very good stories, though.

  7. I gave up writing, even though it was a huge part of my life’s dream, when I was 19 and suffering from a broken heart. Every time I picked up my pen to write, the pain in my soul wanted to overflow and I didn’t want to deal with that. More than ten years later, I’ve finally been able to begin writing. I use a private journal app for now. I know people use writing to heal their pain, but I just couldn’t do it. Perhaps I didn’t have the maturity? Nonetheless, it feels great to be doing what I should have been doing all along. I wrote, illustrated and bound my first book with craft supplies at 5 years old, so…yeah, it’s in my blood.

  8. I writie everywhere. I have a full-sized Bluetooth keyboard that I sync to my iPhone. I keep all of my work in the cloud so I can work on it anywhere. It’s an inexpensive and more compact alternative to carrying a laptop everywhere. I’ve got a tabled (Kindle Fire) that also syncs to the keyboard, but needs WiFi. I can’t use it everywhere, as I can with the phone. Even as I type this I’m sitting in a little mom-n-pop joint having breakfast, and typing on my phone/keyboard combination.

    We’ve had lots of medical issues this past year, too. I’ve found that I got lots of writing done in waiting rooms and hospital rooms.

    Funny story – I’ve been using portable keyboard/personal assistant devices for the past decade, long before smart phones and tablets came along. I was in an airport waiting for my wife to arrive, and had pulled out my Palm Pilot with a portable infrared keyboard. I was typing away, but offered up my seat to a woman on crutches. I put away the keyboard, but kept working on the Palm Pilot.

    Now, this was not long after 9/11, and the US had just invaded Iraq. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by TSA agents, quizzing me about what I was doing and why I was there. I guess they had never seen anyone with this technology before, and thought I was planning to blow up our local airport.

    1. The coolest kbds are the laser-display ones that project onto flat surfaces. THAT gets you strange attentions in airports.
      Oh, and re: airports: NEVER have your carryon luggage be a symmetric prism of solid books with a side pocket of electronics. Makes the robot absolutely certain you are Up To No Good, even if it’s a XAtlantic flight with two voracious readers.

      1. Maybe that is why I seem to get through so easily. Organized luggage has never been my strong point.

        Once just before screening, I might allegedly have realized my Leatherman was in my pocket and not my checked bag. I slid it down into a pocket of my backpack amidst the phone, iPod, and laptop cords; snacks , pencils and miscellanea. No one noticed it during the x-ray process. I don’t recommend this as a common practice, though.

        Twice I have had my carry ons hand checked after x-ray. Once was for a fishing reel, the other a mini tri-pod in my camera bag. I would like to know what the screener thought they were.

        1. After James’ dad died we flew to Denver with Fred and Fern’s ashes to bury them in the military cemetery there. This was… 2002? I called ahead to find out what the TSA requirements were, so we had all of the paperwork. Still, a duffle bag with two boxes of cremains? (You’re not allowed to check them as baggage.) The agents were really squicked out, and pulled us aside for screening. Part of the problem was that they were changing regulations so much at that point, they were scrabbling around for the latest set, and at the same time they were trying really hard to not upset us. We weren’t upset- just watching the clock! We made our flight with time to spare though. And were still joking about Fred riding in my lap all the way to Colorado. (He didn’t He was a good man and stayed in the overhead with his wife. 😀 )

        2. Our experience was at Heathrow; unlike the TSA, the security folk at Heathrow are careful, consistent, punctilious, and smart. And they take this stuff VERY seriously. And it didn’t help that we were two Americans travelling to Belfast.

          On Good Friday.

          At least we weren’t going through Boston.

        3. Once when I was at BJU, I was flying home from the little Greenville airport, and, for some reason, they decided to hand-search my carry-on. I was so embarrassed, since I was standing there in my nylons and knee-length skirt, obviously a BJU student. (This was in the late 80s or early 90s.) I still have no idea what made them need to search it.

        4. @Der_Berater, one of the times I was flying out of Bogota, Colombia I was frisked three times. I still didn’t feel as harassed as the TSA always makes me feel, even when screening runs smoothly.

    2. Overall, my smartphone outperforms the old Palm, but I miss it. I have never found as good a calender to use on the phone. Maybe if I wasn’t always looking at free I could. But I doubt it.

    3. Well, given the number of typos in that original comment, it sounds like my keyboard setup doesn’t work so well. Either that, or George is working overtime.

  9. I recently began to write my thoughts down. I find it to be very therapeutic.
    I am surprised by the emotions that come to surface when writing a past, painful experience. While writing I am able to feel those past pains and allow myself to express them on paper.
    My husband has encouraged me to write a book on my experience in the IFB. I wasn’t ready to revisit those painful experiences until a few months ago. Now that we are empty nesters I find I have a lot more time to myself. Being a stay at home, homeschooling mom for 20+ years left me with little “me” time. 😀

  10. I have a hippie coffeehouse up the street from where I live. The drinks aren’t too pricy, the iced coffee is actually cheap. So is the bottomless cup. I wish I could get more writing done, there. Actually, it’s a second living room. It even has a big shelf of used books.

  11. For most of this year, I’ve been dealing with either an air cast or an articulated brace on one foot and an admonition to keep my feet up as much as possible. So, in order for me to use my laptop and follow dr’s orders, we bought one of those rolling adjustable desks (think hospital bed table). In fact, when we went looking for a new recliner, we had one very specific criteria: the desk’s base had to fit underneath the chair.

    However, I seem to write better away from home with fewer distractions, like pets, laundry, and dishes. Last night I got a fraction of my word count for NaNoWriMo in because of TV. I expect to make up for it tonight at our write-in.

  12. I don’t know if it is because I grew up in a large family or if there are a few wires crossed, but I have a lot of trouble writing anything in quiet. That goes back to high school. My favorite back ground noise is a sporting event on TV. Any sport. (Except tennis. I can’t watch tennis)
    Most of my college papers were written and typed out during the Carson and Letterman shows unless on a weekend. Most of my Sunday School lessons and classes I have taught at conferences were written during football or baseball games.

    And the coffee pot just started. I knew better than look at SFL while getting ready for work. I may have to skip brushing my teeth, now. [Just kidding, in case a dentist is reading]

  13. I get my best writing done when I’m supposed to be doing something else, for some reason, and usually it’s best at coffee shops. Sitting at my own table, I can always see a million things in my house that need to be organized or fixed or whatever, and writing always feels like wasting time that should be spent cleaning.

    And as for seeing the world around you as the sum of the content that it will provide you, I couldn’t agree more. One problem in blogging is that you sometimes come to the point where you’re eternally evaluating everything on the basis of how postable it is.

  14. Sex Offenders depend on our silence.

    Men who performed sex acts with female students have a better chance of being stopped and their crimes brought to justice because there are so many of us and 4 or 5 repeat male sex offenders involved.

    Every male who had sex with female students had MULTIPLE victims, including Ford, Arbitelle, Clark, Garcia and preachers in other states.

    Talking corroborates other’s reports.

    Making a 12-16 year-old pull down their underwear and expose naked behinds for any purpose is sexual indecency with a child!

    We can end the incessant cloud of doubt by telling law enforcement what we know.
    Tell your local law enforcement.

    I want and deserve justice!

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