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.