An Unwriterly Life

The novel is progressing nicely, thanks for asking. At least, it seems to be. May be too close to it to tell for sure. On top of that, I’ve been editing two books for work, and my boss has suggested I write a book for him in a new series of volumes we’re creating, The Accessible _________ (some great but difficult classic that needs “unpacking,” explaining, annotating; he’s doing The Accessible Wealth of Nations, an annotated version of the magnum opus of the Scottish economist Adam Smith; I’ll probably do some work of philosophy or religion, but that hasn’t been decided yet). I’ve got several non-fiction irons in the fire, and we want to issue reprints of some of Adam’s books that haven’t received the audience they deserve, and move a couple of his new projects to the front burner. I’ve even been thinking about starting a new work of fiction that I haven’t told a single soul about yet.

But because I haven’t been attending to my blog, I’ve told myself that I haven’t been writing much lately.

I remember when I friend challenged me to list everything I had published. I was astounded at how much there was; I still felt like a rank beginner who had never achieved anything. Somehow I expected to become a writer who woke early to tap-tap-tap away for a few hours over a cup of tea, then stop to have a nice breakfast and exercise, then do some more writing—profound, moving, and well-paying—in a quiet house, uninterruptible. Or, if my life turned out darker, I might be one of those people who kept a bottle of Scotch in a file cabinet drawer and wrote only in fits of depression and drunkenness. You know, the two basic writerly stereotypes.

Instead, my personal writing is squeezed in amid writing newsletters, doing Internet research, editing press releases, watching television, doing book and advertising graphic design, paying bills, consulting on web design, getting acupuncture, helping friends, yadda yadda yadda. It’s amazingly easy to let life and work steal creative time, especially when I feel like one of those jugglers who spins plates atop tall poles.

E.M. Forster famously wrote, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” It’s a good question, frankly. I should do more journaling, more experimental writing, more writing with no specific end in mind. It might help me clarify all these half-formed notions floating around my brain. I’m thinking I may want to do just that with this new bit of fiction that’s been nudging me, just to see if there’s anything there that really wants to come out, and if it does, what it might look like.

But it’s now almost 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, and I’m tired, and a new Miss Marple takes over for a few weeks on tonight’s Masterpiece Mystery: the wonderful Julia McKenzie. So I’m going to go watch her on my DVR, and the writing will just have to wait for now. If midnight rolls around and the muse of fiction is still rattling around in my head, I may play with words and ideas, and see what it is I think.

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Categories: Words, Writing | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “An Unwriterly Life

  1. Deloney

    I didn’t know the famous Forster quotation — I do like it.

  2. indigo bunting

    I love to hear you write like this.

  3. Jennie

    I was going to respond to this, but I suddenly remembered I have writing I promised you I’d do…

  4. Mali

    I can’t wait to read what it is you think.

  5. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb

    I love stories about how writers write. Some are disciplined, some are sloppy. Some write thousands of words/day, others write a single page. Some write every single day, no matter what; others write only when inspired. Some watch Miss Marple before writing. . . .

  6. You’re writing a novel?

  7. Co-editing a novel.

  8. bettyslocombe

    You are the real deal, mon ami. Some of us have too much time to write, to no greater result.

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