Your parents are frustrated that after they put you to bed at night, they can hear you through the door, yammering on to your stuffed animals, telling stories steeped in your four years worth of experience.
You get notes sent home from kindergarten saying that you daydream too much. Those stories you keep telling are too bizarre for a small child to hear, let alone repeat.
You fold printer paper into small squares and write illustrated stories in them. “Is that a bug?” Your teacher asks. You peer closely at your drawing. “It’s a cat,” you say. You find a friend who can draw better than you to illustrate your next masterpiece.
In junior high, you attempt poetry. You have read enough poetry by now that you recognize your poems are terrible. But you keep writing them.
In high school, you write stories. Someone tells you to write a book, so you do. It is still terrible, and only forty pages long.
You ask your English teacher to help edit a short story, and then submit it to some high school level writing contests. You are a runner-up, and while your parents makesa big deal about it, you know you can do better.
You learn the rules for prepositions, subject-verb agreement, and their/they’re/there. You become a grammar nazi. Your friends are not amused.
You go to college and take writing courses. You read your way through banned books. The avant-garde of the sixties seem boring and not at all revolutionary, but you try to like those books anyway, out of a growing sense of solidarity for new artists.
But then life speeds up, and you graduate from college. To prolong your stay in the familiar, you go to grad school. You’ve never been poorer.
But you graduate again. And this time, you get a job. So writing, what you loved so much, has been relegated to the odd weekend when you have little to do, and friends are out of town.
You start dating someone particular, the kind of person those junior high love poems fantasized about. You move in. Your writing spot is compromised, but you don’t care: this is love. You get married. Years are filled with family and work, buying a house and renovations.
A decade has passed. When did you write?
I got up at 5:15 this morning to work on newsletter content. There are times when I get up at 4:00 am to work on my novel before I go to my job, but those days are difficult for me to sustain. It is sometimes hard to not be resentful when I have to get up and go to work after the joy of editing someone else’s work. And to me it is a joy. I get greater fulfillment out of working on my own stuff, absolutely, but to me, it is all writing, and I love it.
If not an early hour, when the world is sleeping, when can a person write? Of all the writing rules and advice, tucked between “write what you like” and “don’t use adverbs” is “spend time in the chair.” Time is the biggest challenge.
Please now, everyone re-read this blog post while listening to Fleetwood Mac’s song “Landslide.”