Saturday, February 17, 2007

Write every day? Yeah, right.

Do you ever get sick of hearing that? I do. Maybe it's just because I don't write everyday. Or maybe I'm sick of hearing it from people who have the time available to them. In this month's Poets & Writers Walter Mosley delivers the usual lecture. He begins,

The first and most important thing that you have to know about writing is that
it is something you must do everyday. Every morning or every night, whatever
time it is that you have.
Well, I don’t want to hear it, but it’s hard to argue with. But then he goes on,

Getting your words down on the page takes time. How much? I write three hours every morning. It’s the first thing I do, Monday through Sunday, fifty-two weeks a year.

Well, congratu-freakin-lations. Must be hard to do with that full-time job, a toddler and a pregnant wife. Oh, wait, that’s me, not Walter Mosley. Does he have a full-time job?

He does go on to make some great points, and I don’t want to dismiss the thesis that writing is hard work.

Elsewhere in the magazine, an article by Caitlin O’Neil called “The Writer’s Triangle: Balancing Writing With Living” let’s us see the other side of the maxim. She writes, “If a writer is earning enough money, she doesn’t have enough time to write. If a writer has enough time to write, she’s broke. If a writer is cut off from people and money-generating work in order to write, she’s depressed and isolated.” Now, I won’t argue though I disagree with the last point, or at least I don’t know that there’s really anything wrong with being depressed and isolated (I could also criticize the pronoun choice, but I won’t).

It is tricky finding that balance, being fair to all aspects of your life. In an interview I heard recently with Kate Braverman she said that if you are serious about the art of writing get a well-paying job. She doesn't suggest sacrificing your well-being by hiding out in your office and not working until finally producing your masterpiece. Instead, find a job that provides you the security you need to not let money figure in to your work and one that leaves your mind open for creative activity. This is the tack I'm taking.

Years ago, I lived what I deemed was an "artist's life." That meant drinking too much, quitting jobs on a whim, and living a life of poverty and degradation. But, boy, did I produce a lot of work. Too bad most of it was crap. Since then I got my act together, got my undergraduate degree, then an MFA, got a real job, got married and began having children. So, I may not write as much now (and certainly not as much as I should) but what I write is better. And I'm not so desperate to make a buck with it that I let that override artistic concerns.

Okay, so I resolve to write more, nearly everyday, but I will still cherish my sleep, my time with my family, and I'm still going to work. Three hours a day, my ass.

1 comment:

  1. Hear,hear! (or is it 'here, here!'?)
    When you count your days in naps and 6 minute increments (which is how my company asks us part-time workers to record our timesheets) 3 hours of solid writing time just ain't gonna happen.
    I used to try to take the Julie Cameron approach with 'morning pages', but again most everything I wrote at 5 a.m. was about how freaking tired I felt. Now when I do write, it may only be an hour or two a month, but it's the culmination of a month's worth of thinking about a piece.
    Also, I don't discount the time I spend emailing friends or writing things for work. maybe I do actually get in three hours a day.