Thursday, August 31, 2006

the end of summer

September begins tomorrow, and as is often the case, I’m moved to recreate my schedule to make more focused time for writing. Having a full time job, parenting three kids and navigating the ever-so-turbulent affairs of the heart, I seem to be neglecting my writing.

I wish it weren’t so darn hard for me to wake up at 4 am, as many of my successful colleagues do, to spend a couple of unsullied hours at my craft. This is the habit instilled in “real writers,” after all. William Stafford, for instance. He was a pre-dawn writer. Every day of his life. And he greeted the day with exercise, too! I fail on both accounts.

I lack the ability to sustain focus, determination and conviction, attending instead to whatever stray thought wafts my way. The novel I’m wrestling with now demands more for me. It wants a writer who approaches from a more disciplined and organized position. What I find is that I consider the work at hand only after the normative issues in my life have reached a level of sedation. The novel is the red-haired stepchild. The thing embarked upon after sighing heavily and cracking knuckles repeatedly.

I can’t blame my prioritizing on motherhood, work or my romantic ennui. It’s something else. Insecurity, perhaps? Guilt? Or maybe just ordinary fear of being seized by impulses greater than myself, and projecting a lack of boundaries once immersed.

Flexibility, the false-friend to freelancers, nudges me toward complacency. Laziness, even. The flip side of flexibility is shallow conviction. Sanguine tra-la-la-la-la, and splashing about in ankle-deep puddles. I fear this is my profile. I am not deep enough to be a serious writer. I am not convicted enough.

Even now, with four days in which to do whatever the heck I want, I am choosing to pop myself into my minivan and zip over the mountains in order to ride my bike alongside my son and my ex-husband. I’ve chosen to attend to the frisky family girl in me, at the expense of a possible deep plunge into the novel. Take Ray Carver, for instance. He lived for uninterrupted writing opportunities. Take the thousand or so writers who will participate in this year’s Labor Day Weekend write-a-thon,
the annual 3-Day Novel competition.

I’m going to pass on this exercise this year. But I will make one concession: I am going to wake up at 5:30 every single day next week, beginning on Monday, and spend at least one solid hour writing before doing anything else (except pouring ready-made coffee into a mug). Wish me luck.


  1. No luck involved. So, I wish you courage. No. You have that. Hmn. I wish you... get some good nights' sleep.

    And stay away from your EX-husband.

  2. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Well Suzy, you do have a lot on your plate. So you do have to figure out how to carve something out for yourself. I am someone who has run out of excuses when it comes to the writing life. I have little distractions right now because I have thrown most of them away. So it gets me to the root of the question. I would look deeply at the guilt and insecurity questions. For me, I have to say it is both and also fear. I was told my Jill Ciment that I am a real writer, but I find it harder to figure out why I don't do it seriously, and is it because I don't that I am miserable? There is an amount of bravery involved.

    Also, Ray Carver wasn't the most well adjusted individual. He dumped his old family when he got fame. The bigger question is- how can I be a good writer and a good family person, etc etc? Heck if I know!


  3. Thank you my clever writer friends.

    Good point re: courage, David.

    And you, Ms. Kayla, yes, Ray Carver certainly had a rep, and it wasn't completely stellar when it came to his loved ones.

    So, I've greeted the sun three days in a row. Have not written a thing. Can not speak from a place of engagement tonight. Maybe tomorrow?



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