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I am back! Hooray, hooray. Yes, I am doing wonderfully, thanks for asking. How are you?
Today is Monday, which is Writer’s Life day. I have a schedule, if you hadn’t noticed—and it is CHANGING. Instead of four posts a week I’m cutting it down to three: Mondays will still be Writer’s Life, Wednesdays will now be Reader’s Life, and I’ll alternate between Thursentaries, Blogger’s Life, and WBI at the end of the week. What can I say? Life is life.
But let’s chat about Writer’s Life. For the record, I didn’t take a break because I didn’t have Writer’s Life posts prepared—I did—but I wasn’t feeling the Writer’s Life Groove.
I haven’t written much lately. I can make excuses like homework and work and commuting, but those are all terrible excuses because I care way more about writing than I ever could about school. Not to bash school, of course, school is fine—but it is temporary, and represents a lot of things I am good at but don’t really matter in the long run.
I know I should write but between fatigue and interruptions and procrastination and the mood of deepest contempt that comes when you haven’t had any quality alone time in four months, I do not write.
So it feels like there shouldn’t be a Writer’s Life day. Who am I kidding? I’m not a writer, I’m a noncommittal hobbyist with delusions of creativity and a remora-like attachment to real ones.
The Internet becomes a cruel friend because it’s easy to find other people’s accomplishments. Other writers are like, “I wrote a bajillion words today, go me!” and “Good news, I have plans to write hundreds of books!” and “Yay! Five thousand people ALL LOVE MY BOOK.”
And I am like, “Well, today I booted up my laptop and resented life.”
But the way things are is usually not how things seem. Undoubtedly people will say, “Surprise, surprise: everyone’s life is like that, Heather.” And I know. You get ninety rejections for every one acceptance, you have bad days. People are honest about that online. More than that, my life is pretty good—I recently finished The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and it reminded me that my life does not suck at all. Not even a little bit.
We aren’t all perfect writers. But it still bothers me, because in the end I’m still comparing myself to that perfect writer, and even if perfect writers don’t exist I still know what it is to be one. The most productive person on earth. The wittiest. The most intelligent, passionate, engaging, entertaining, lasting, symbolic, treacherous, satisfying, capable, successful writer on earth. And even if I know they don’t exit it is easy to find writers who are better than me at those things. It’s easy to compare myself to an ideal.
And so today I think I would like to flip that writer off.
Like, screw that. Writing is a cycle. A process. You don’t suddenly attain this height of writerly amazingness and after that get everything right. We continually return to square one of Ground Zero. It’s a fight. But just because you’re on the sidelines doesn’t mean that you can’t still get back in the game. We don’t write because we’re keeping score, we don’t write to beat the other writers.
We write because we must and we can. And we write because it doesn’t leave us alone.
And so even though I’m still on the same novel I was last November and even though it spends most of the day untouched in its sad little folder and even though it’s disappointing that I sometimes can’t fit everything I’d like in my day, it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a writer. I’m just a writer who still has a longer way to go.
That being said, it is either my great pleasure or my deep regret that Mondays are still devoted to Writer’s Life.