For years now, I have had a day off during the week. My job has been one set up on a four day, ten hour weekly schedule. The ten hour days usually started at six or six thirty and often exceeded the scheduled ten hours. Draining physically and leaving nothing in the tank for the remains of the day, the four days could suck. Yet, that weekday off more than made up for it. It freed me to make appointments, clean the house, run errands, plan the calendar for the upcoming weekend and generally feel good about not going into work on a random weekday. Most importantly the day created time for me to write. To write in the morning. And I mean the ass-grabbing early mornings, often staring starting before five. I figured if I had to get up really early to trudge to work, then I could surely get up early to do something I really wanted to do.
I even came to understand that my physical body was not in charge. If I set the intention to write early on my day off, my mind woke me as reliably as any alarm would or could. Off I went to write. It has worked for years now, as I said. I wrote and rewrote “Back outta the World.” I wrote Tripio for the first, second and third times. I launched a blog that has just recently hit 100 followers,which took nearly 100 posts to achieve (Gratitude to you all). My output was fueled by coffee and the certainty that the mornings were, as Maya Angelou said about her writing, “the only time I felt I was any good.”
Then comes the Pandemic. Don’t get me wrong. I feel fortunate, like somehow I had a ticket on the Pandemic Express and it blew past my stop. I kept my job, no one I know well has been hospitalized and I have kept a sense of normalcy in my overall life. Except that work changed it’s schedule. Not an uncommon response for these times. This meant a disruption to my daily life, and I felt, possible disaster to my writing life.
My weekday of assured, productive writing was gone. Like that. The time I knew, I knew I could write as well as I was going to write all week was gone. The reasons for knowing that time would be productive are baked into those 100 posts I mentioned earlier. The quick and dirty being that by the time one sits down to write it may already be to late. (A tease for anyone new to this blog). Sure, I could write weekend mornings, but they have a different sort of pull to them. I have been getting up early again every morning before work but have only time to re-work Back outta the World– literally a paragraph at a time – then it’s off to the salt mines. As I write this, I have to smile to myself because this scene recalls Jay in Tripio, “bargaining with himself” for a couple more minutes of writing the same book, before he races out of his apartment to catch a bus for his shift at his Starbucks three decades ago. Whoever said, “Writing is mostly rewriting“, was not wrong.
“Just write in the evenings, dumb ass, you have the time these days“
Easy for me to say. What if I suck? When I wake up, clear headed, free of the scattering five senses, I can easily access my wonderful, bountiful mind. Then and there when it is all so easily available, so effortlessly harvested. I have done this for years and know it works. Before all the rest of the day and the world find it begin to take it from me. I know it works. I’ve seen it take shape on the screen in front of me. What if I won’t be any good in the evenings or even late afternoons.??
I was left with no choice to change my tried and true method. My blogs were falling behind. Rick, T and Jay from Back outta the World were still stuck in the hills of Virginia on their way to Mexico. Yet, I was still not quite ready to commit to any new method until one recent Sunday when I found myself on a friend’s porch on a beautiful humidity free morning. We were listening to and watching a religious service being live streamed. The message of the service was simple: that we live in a world where all the answers are at our fingertips, in our phones, laptops, podcasts and you name it. And with all that it is more difficult to do anything without knowing the answer, or most of it beforehand. The catch was that all that knowledge may not help us. It can, at times, be better to for our mind, body and soul to not know the answers beforehand.
“Do something which requires faith” This line came out of the laptop at me like I was the only one listening. Thinking back, I was. My friend had dashed inside to refill her coffee. And the service was being live streamed to an empty church. So, don’t dwell too much on that line. But at that moment, I knew that I had to go on faith with my writing. Do something that requires faith. I will write on faith. Any writer must, really. If it doesn’t come easily, I will work on it, find a way to access my writing mind. I will work on it while holding on to the belief and faith that I can find my wonderful, bountiful, distraction free, writing mind at a time that is not of my choosing.
‘May I help who’s next?”