Writing makes me ravenously hungry. I no sooner sit down to the computer and my mind wanders to what might be in the fridge. It’s not even ten o’clock in the morning, for example, and I am having some whole grain pasta with pesto sauce. I’ve tried to be psychoanalytic in my interpretation of this phenomenon: What kind of hollow does the blank page carve inside of me? But, I don’t know. That angle leaves me … empty.
Yesterday, we had our first snowfall of the season. I was at work and as I stood in the hospital corridor with one of our patients watching drops of light fall from the sky, I felt hungry. I told the patient that I thought it must be some prehistoric need for extra calories the cold weather triggers.
He laughed and said, “ The winter fat to get you ready for hibernation, huh?”
“Yes!” I said. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Maybe it’s the same with writing. I must fortify myself for the long season.
Writing is hard work.
This is difficult to explain to those who do not write. I can’t tell you how many times, when I tell a friend that I have some writing to do, their eyes glaze over and they proceed with their requests of my time as if they didn’t hear. Or, they fall silent, struck dumb by an inability to wrap the mind around the exact meaning of what I just said.
I imagine that this is true of most any work done from home. People just assume that if you are home, the moments are free. To be fair, the work I do from home gives me more flexibility than the time I put in at the hospital. But in many ways, because I am trying to squeeze a writing life into an already full existence, these moments I spend in front of my computer need to be guarded more fiercely than others.
Often, I have trouble doing this myself, let alone asking others to respect those boundaries. Sometimes I need help. I need the advice of other writers. I need to hear how other word-lovers have ordered their lives to make sense of these messy lines that sometimes feel like fine filigree.
I have a network of writer-friends, many who I would feel comfortable calling upon in a minute’s notice to whine in their ear about a particular grievance. But one of the most wonderful things about having writer-friends is that they sometimes write books. And sometimes those books can be a source of encouragement and wisdom.
So it is for On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Steps for a Writing Life that Lasts, the new release from my friends Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. The book started out as a workshop the two taught together. As often happens when teaching a subject, Ann and Charity noticed that through their time invested in the course they were teaching, their own writing lives grew rich fruit.
Are you a writer? I think Ann and Charity can help you take your writing life to a new place. On Being a Writer is filled not only with practical wisdom, but also with imaginative prompts and ideas that will spark your creative mind.
I’m giving away a copy of Ann and Charity’s book. I hope that even if you don’t win, you’ll check out On Being a Writer. It’s a wonderful resource for writers in all stages of their career.