August 8, 2014
Yes, it is true. It is 10:30 am on a Friday morning and I am still wearing the gray men’s pajama pants and the red lacrosse t-shirt that I slept in last night. I’m only vaguely aware of the fact that it is Friday, as many of the days seem to bleed into one another when you are working from home, which is like working from space. I’m vaguely aware that it is Friday because yesterday was Thursday and every other week I have a Thursday deadline for the Lamorinda Weekly. It is a deadline that I usually meet but sometimes don’t make, which is just as well this summer when I am writing more articles than my editor will publish.
I am vaguely aware that it is 10:30 am because that is the midway point between breakfast and lunch, the point at which I usually make my second pot of tea or reheat the rest of the coffee from the French press that is sitting on the dining room table. These breaks are what help me to keep writing. They are also what keep me from writing, so it is a love-hate relationship. Other things that keep me from writing: Words with Friends, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, the cats outside my window. One of them is missing an eye. I decide to name him Wazowski, but I will probably call him Mike.
There are a great many things I anticipated I would do this summer, the summer between the first and second year of my MFA program. A great many things indeed. I was going to get an internship. I was going to finish a novel. I was going to read many books and write many essays. I was going to finally print business cards and work on developing a website. I was even going to be a barista in my free time. I have done none of those things. What I have done: Read one memoir, driven to the beach, drank many cups of coffee, eaten many ice cream cones, “liked” many things on Facebook, called many friends, watched many episodes of Frasier. I have also blogged many posts and written many articles. I have applied for a few jobs and read a good smattering of essays. I have tried pitching articles to magazines. I have attempted to learn HTML. I have been Contra dancing and Irish folk dancing. I have gone to a few movies and rented a few more. I have gotten really, really excited about the future I imagine I will have after I finish my degree (all 6-8 versions of it). I get less excited about paying back my student loans.
My summer has not been a waste. It has just been different than I imagined.
Being a freelance writer is different than I imagined as well. It is not glamorous, (though I’m not sure I ever thought it was glamorous). It is hard. And scary. It requires a lot of researching and inventing and tracking down of publications and pitching of good stories, and even good stories get rejected. It takes courage to put your fingers to the keyboard and begin filling the empty white space that scrolls on endlessly before you. It is ever so much easier to make coffee and plan dinner parties. I think I might prefer it.
Freelancing takes buckets of persistence. It requires putting yourself out there day after day, hoping that someone will notice, that other writers will respond to your e-mails, that editors will look at your resume, that readers will comment on your blogs, that you’ll be retweeted or liked or favorited or even just read by anyone at all. It is way more emotional than I anticipated. Sort of like dating.
Freelancing involves all kinds of questioning and wondering and waiting. It also involves an awful lot of sitting (really, a very great deal of sitting) and not so much physical activity. For this reason, my writing life also includes weekly yoga and bi-weekly weightlifting classes, which remind me only of how terrible my posture is during the 8 hours a day I spend slumped over my desk. But this is what I wanted to do—this writing thing. This is what I told myself I would do. Just this once. This one blissful summer of staying in my pajamas until the early afternoon. Of getting into writing frenzies and finishing fifteen-page profiles that I find so terribly inspiring I want to send fan mail to my subjects. Of blogging really crappy thought circles that lead to really profound truths. Of going to the beach in the middle of the day in the middle of the week because the beach is only an hour away and I have the rest of my life to miss it but only now to experience it.
There it is.
Did you see it?
814 words into this blog post and I think I’ve found the reason I began writing it in the first place. To realize this: That I have the rest of my life to regret or reflect on what did or didn’t happen, but only now to do something about it. Of course, I didn’t know this is why I started writing this post when I started writing it. That is part of the reason writers write. To find out what we know we don’t know we actually already know. (Read it again. It will make sense). Sometimes truth is funny that way, lingering in the corners just before jumping up and screaming so loudly it scares you out of your pants (or your pajamas, as the case may be).
There is not that much summer left. I think I will go and do yoga now. Or maybe buy groceries. Buying groceries is the best. I hope you will do the same. Well, maybe not exactly the same. Maybe you think yoga is for hippies or that buying groceries is a hassle. That’s cool. Just go do whatever that thing is that helps you remember it is good to be alive. That is really all we can ask from a day, no matter where in the week it falls.