Monday, January 13, 2014

Introductions and New Directions, Part 2

Sometimes, and it's generally in the more extreme of circumstances or emotions, I have to ask: “why didn't I do this before?” Of course, oftentimes I'm saying this sort of “why did we not do this before?” to Janice.

Case in point, I play with my son everyday, all too often I get this feeling that we should have gotten on this parenthood thing sooner. I feel this way because I have such a wonderful time with my family that I can only think that it would have been fun even to have started earlier. The flipside is true too. For instance, we lived in a rundown slum for a few months. It was such an awful experience that I am unable to begin telling about it, but when it was over, the skies cleared and everything lightened up. It left me wondering, “why did we not move before?”

There's a reason why. There is a reason why we did not begin a family sooner, and there is a reason why we lived as long as we did in the random neighborhood where we did. These things are a result of other things that are results of what came before that. Or, as we've come to think of it, it's part of the process. And the case with these two examples, the process is simply called life.

The biggest change in recent weeks for us is that we decided to rent an office. Our office is nothing fancy. We have 8' x 14' with a door and a window. We each have a desk, a work chair and an easy chair. We have ample light. There's a bookshelf. And if you think 8' x 14' is too small for two people, well, I have to say we are never and will never be here at the same time. Someone must stay home with the baby.

Janice works the morning shift, 7 until noon. She's building her business, and I'm floored at how quickly she's making things happen. I get the afternoon shift. I get a few afternoons a week from 1 to 5. As far as writing time goes, four hours a day seems both so much and so little. It's so little when I consider that I once wrote for 8-10 hours a day, everyday. And it's so much because since my son showed up to the party, I've grown accustomed to less than 8 hours a week. Those 8 hours have been tough with constant interruption both internal and external.

I've often considered the idea of space, a writer's space, over the years. For a long time I considered a writer's space something internal. Space to me meant the shedding of things: burdens, obligations and those time suckers like debt and vice. Writer's space meant the purposeful weeding out of the unnecessary to arrive at the moment of creation in your work. It may seem silly, or perhaps hippy-dippy/airy-fairy, but all I mean is this: eliminate all that is unneeded, unnecessary in life and you will end up with way more hours in a day than you'll know. I've spent years doing just this.

Now, however, I'm adding a real-tangible, physical location to my writer's space. Simply by maintaining a desk in this small office I share with Janice I have given a location to go and work.

What happens now?

I try to keep regular hours. In the office it takes no time to quiet, to still and to forget the outside world. Once I've taken off my coat and hat, turned on the lights and pulled my chair back from the desk, I have already forgotten everything from the outside. I'm ready to work.

What work it is—I had alluded to the tasks I'd like to accomplish and goals I'd like to meet in this discussion last week. I was not vague on purpose. Even last week I was not completely certain of all I wanted to get done. I'm afraid my work as “writer” has become more than writing.

As I consider it, the focusing of thought is a major feat. This is because there are more parts to the writing day than I have known before. First and foremost, I have so much new material coming my way, and I don't really want to do anything else. Then there are the smaller tasks: UFM, this blog, my work at Sophia Ballou. The pursuit of publication I went on and on about in 2012 still needs going on and on about now. And for the first time in my career, I'm finally ready to break out of my shell a little and meet others. I'm ready for lectures, readings, workshops and teaching. We'll see.

I know there are others out there like me, those in the middle of their careers. There is still so much new stuff to writer, but much of the working day is the marketing of the old. It's a handful of tasks, that left unorganized will take more time of sort than just doing.

My suggestion: get an office, get a quiet, distraction free space where there is no noise either internal or external. Share a space if you must. I feel Janice's creative energy in our office even long after she's left. Whether it's part of life, or the process, I have to ask myself, why did I wait so long? It begs me to ask Janice too: “Why did we wait so long to work in our own office?” If you have to be chained to an institution, should it not be one of your own creation?

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