Write Now, Right Now
This blog entry by my longtime writer friend Allie Marini Batts has made me thoughtful. She made a lot of great points in it, not least of which is WRITING IS WORK. I'm lucky enough to do it for a living and I have three part time jobs. Sometimes that number becomes five or ten, whatever I have to do to keep this train going. At any given time, two or three of those jobs have to do with writing, thank God, and I'm eternally grateful to have them. But, by and large, at least in the beginning, you don't get paid for the creative side of writing. I've been paid for layout, writing copy, and editing everything from someone's memoir to a dissertation, to say nothing of hundreds upon hundreds of college term papers.
For me there are two camps. The camp of Writing I Do To Pay The Bills and the camp of Writing I Do Because This Is Who I Am. Sometimes - like right now - I'm ridiculously lucky and the two camps overlap.
But the trick to remember about writing is this - you do it because not writing is unthinkable. You do it because you need to get up every morning and feel words coming out of you. You need to remake the world in a different way, today, and if that means you steal five minutes from your lunch break and write a poem or a mini-story, that's what it means. No one is going to hand you the keys to the kingdom the second you have one poem published. That's great, but you have more to say. Keep going. You have to write as much as you can, every day. You have to love it more than you've ever loved anyone in your life. The pen or the computer has to become your second spouse if you're already married or partnered.
Money has nothing to do with it, although it's a reality. I write because when I don't, my inner life sucks and it's not as interesting. When I don't write - even writing about writing like right now - I feel like I am literally wasting my time on this earth.
Ray Bradbury's book Zen in the Art of Writing keeps me going a lot of the times. He wrote it long after he was famous, but it still retains his own rich, brave enthusiasm for his craft. When I get discouraged or I feel like my chapter/poem/idea just isn't moving, I turn to Ray and it gets better.