Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This Writing Life

I was just admiring my friend, poet Jane Springer's work habits. She rolls out of bed, doesn't get dressed, sets up on the porch with her laptop, some iced tea, and a full pack of cigarettes and sets about writing. For the whole day.

I am a hub of distraction.

This morning, I slept in. Because last night, we decided to watch another episode of Twin Peaks at 10:45. And then, what's another glass of wine at 11:45? Before I went to sleep at around 1:00, I remember saying, You know what would be great? If you just shut the door and let me sleep tomorrow.

And I did. I said goodbye to my teenager, but missed the little one getting on the bus. I slept until almost 10.

When I got up, I got online, answered emails. Checked to see how many people liked the photos I posted on facebook. And got a phone call from my brother.

Cascade Mountains, WA
My mom is coming to visit for ten days. I saw her last in 2010, but she hasn't seen the rest of us since 2008. And while this should be totally exciting, it's really mostly totally anxious. Everyone is anxious. We're anxious about being anxious. And my brother's reaction to anxiety, especially high levels of it, is to talk about it.

At 11:05, I finally got off the phone, only to be called by the teenager, who was on his lunch break, and wanted a cigarette. So I drove to McDonald's, where they were all gathered, dropped of a cigarette and went through the drive-thru for a free cup of coffee and nothing else.

Because I'm also broke.

I haven't written anything yet. Or even opened up the dropbox where my writing is. Truth is, I probably can't today. Not with the anxiety hanging over me. I'll probably clean the house and walk the dog. The cleaning will be scattered and less efficient than usual. I'll flit from one task to another and the end result will be that the house won't look much different. But I'll pace around for a few hours.

Writers I know spend long days working, or reading, because that too is part of the process. My brain is like a misfiring weapon a lot of the time. Doesn't, or does, too much. Too rapid. I've been told to quit drinking, to go to bed earlier, to not answer the phone, to get help, to focus on my work, to become the asshole who can steal way, can hole up and write, as Sugar says, like a motherfucker. I've been told to man up.

But the truth is, this is who I am, and this is what has made me into a writer when I'm able to do it. I should do some of these things, sure. I should also eat more leafy green vegetables. I would write more if I could ignore the phone, if I could not be so invested in my kids.

And when I think of that, I think of when I used to go to mass with my parents, and the way my dad would grip my hand during the sign of peace. He'd grip it like it was all he had to hang onto. Us. Would he have been happier, more productive, if he could have shrugged us off a little and not clung so tight? Maybe.

And maybe I would too. But it's not in my blood.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer,

    I've purchased both of your books, as Rick Barthelme has nothing but praise to give you, and your story with the rabbit at New World Writing busted my heart up.

    This post is a lovely one and comforts completely. Thanks for your honesty; it's sort of life-saving as I struggle to get to the word processor myself. I look forward to reading the rest of your work!