Monday, November 5, 2012

The Writer and (the) Work

I spent a few hours with my dear friend Caroline today. I say dear friend, and it is true, she is a dear friend. Generally when I introduce her, I introduce her as my MFBF (mother fuckin' best friend). I don't know exactly how she got this title, but it sticks with her. So today, my MFBF came around for a visit.

We caught up on new times. We talked about work. We talked about family. We talked about the things that adults always seem to talk about. Then our conversation turned to her recent return to college. It seems she's taking a German Language class and a writing class. A writing class? I never seem to get tired of talking about those classes. Janice doesn't seem to get tired of talking about those classes either. Fortunately, and this is always good to hear, my MFBF is doing well in her writing class and enjoying it too.

Then the discussion arises that maybe she will become a writer. I think she should. Oh, I think she should. She says it's a possibility, but just that—a possibility. It seems that writing is still laborious for her. “How do you do it?” she says. “I just do,” I tell her. And that's just it, I just do. What's even funnier about it is that I had spoken to another friend earlier in the day who asked me when I find time to write. I don't know, I just find the time.

As our visit wound down, I put another plug for her decision to become a writer. “It get's easier,” I said. “The more you do, the better it will be,” I said. “It's like anything. You just have to do it,” I said. “Then you can look at my blog,” I said. “I've dropped by your blog,” she said. Well, Caroline, if you're stopping by now, I just told the world that you're my MFBF and that I think you should be a writer.

I've talked about what I think it means to be a writer. I've talked about what means to be a worker. I've talked about being a screenwriter, an editor, and a novelist. But what does it really mean? What does the writer and work -and- the writer and the work mean?

The writer and work is just that. I writer must work, a writer must write. I've said this before. All your writer friends have said this before. Your instructors have said this before. In the case of my buddy Noah who asked when I find time to write, I have no straight answer. I just find the time. Remember it doesn't take all that long to write a page. Write one page a day, stay at it for 25 years and you'll be astounded at what you get. When I say one page a day for 25 years that comes to 9,131.25 pages. I'll venture to guess that I have more than that many pages. I try to write everyday. As of late, I finally have a family, by which I mean a newborn, and writing hours are hard to find. But I find them. I think everyone should.

A different angle to it is the work. When I think of the work, it is just that, the body of work. When I say 25 years of writing, at least for me, I am not far off. I have precious few pieces of my writing that date to 1986. They are not very good, but we all start somewhere. I started to keep a personal diary in 1990. I got heavily into writing sometime in 1993. I could go through dates and milestones which might be boring, so I keep it brief: I have just about everything I've ever written within a fingertip's distance. I will not be able to pour over all the pages I've ever written, not in a sitting, not in a weekend, probably not in a month. I could recall or pull up anything with a moment's notice. I could bring up the pages upon pages of the weird shit I wrote while living in Europe. I could pull up the pages I wrote under Vance Aandahl's tutelage. I have the hot months of Tucson, Arizona, and I have the long rainy nights of Portland, Oregon equally close at hand. I have mountains of poetry (mostly bad), I have highways of screenplays (mostly surrendered); I have hundreds of shorts stories, and I have a dozen novels. What does this mean for me? Well, I have work, I have worked and I have work to do.

As writers we have so many tools and we cannot forget to use them. We have pens and paper; we have typewriters and file cabinets; we have computers and disk space. We can collect words in every conceivable order. We can maintain what we have written and we can work it all over again. In the case of Caroline, she has an entire life of writing to embark upon. I'm excited for that. For me, I may not have all the time I once had, but I do have mountains to sift through. I still have work to do even if it is not the generation of new material. A writer must work.

So, when does it become time to organize all of this work? I have no real answer to that. The time comes, I suppose when it makes sense to give the college essays and travel poetry a looksee. Who knows? Perhaps when it comes to vast depths of a writer's work, well that may be work for another person or another time.

1 comment:

  1. My MFBF,
    I feel I should sum up this post by letting you know that I made the decision to just do it. I write every day. This is the only requirement I've placed on myself. I write something every day. After only a few weeks, what was a chore has become a welcome compulsion and although I recognize most of what I'm writing will come to nothing, the act itself is satisfying.
    I want to be a writer.
    Before I had the guts to say it, you said it.
    Thank you. I love you. Now, I have work to do.