Monday, February 21, 2011

The Writing Life Part 1: what I expected

I just returned from a panel up at Williams College with a few literary superstars: Jay McInerney and Gary Fisketjon.  It was amazing just listening to them -- their lives, how they got where they are, their wisdom.  Amazing!

The topic of the panel was "The Writing Life" and as I've settled in to work this morning I've been thinking about the first question we were asked: what is the writing life?  Our answers were generally broad, dealing with how we got to where we are, but there was also the question of "how/when do you write?"  Jay brought up that some people can write a book and then spend their life talking about that book rather than writing another.  His advice was to write every day -- that's what it comes down to: writing.

As I settled in to work today after so many disrupted weeks, I started to think about what that meant on a daily basis.  Over breakfast after the event I asked Jay if he still writes every day.  He said he still writes most days.  It made me think about my own schedule because I *don't* write every day even though I work every day.  I've learned that there's quite a gap between "writing" and "working" and this really highlighted for me the difference between what I expected my life as a full time writer to be like and the reality.

This is what I expected:

I'd wake up in the morning after a luxuriously restful sleep.  I'd yawn and stretch in my sun dappled room and perhaps spend a few moments pondering the day, thinking over what I've been writing and composing a few lines to get me going.  After rising from bed and donning a cute yet relaxed outfit (perhaps something yoga-ish) I'd make my way through my clean house and alight in my office where I'd answer a few emails before getting down to work: writing.

I'm a fast writer so I'd probably knock out a thousand words before wandering into the kitchen for breakfast.  Perhaps I'd make an organic fruit smoothie with fresh fruit from the farmer's market.  I'd think about my latest writing project and return to the office, finishing my word goal for the day before lunch-time.

Lunch would be something light -- a salad or soup, again made from ingredients purchased at the farmer's market (because I'd have time for such things).  Maybe I'd set something aside for dinner -- begin marinating something or start a stock.  If I didn't go to the gym in the morning, I'd head there now, taking advantage of the afternoon lull.

Upon returning home from the gym perhaps there'd be some business I'd have to take care of -- a few emails, a blog, updating the website.  Nothing too taxing and I might even finish all the work by 4:00 whereupon I'd lounge on the couch and read.  I'd have dinner ready for JP most night -- all fresh and tasty.

Some days I'd go to a movie, other days I'd make the rounds of various bookstores to sign stock.  I might even fit in a nap!

I'd write more than one book a year -- after all, I'd written my first published novel while also working a taxing job (some of it during a trial where I billed over 300 hours for a couple of months).  With all this newfound time I'd be a writing machine!

All would be neat and organized, all would be timely.  The house would be clean, my office would be tidy.  I'd have it all together and it would be wonderful.

It was a glorious dream.  And so very much not reality.


Sarah MacLean said...

*snort* I had this dream once. I'm so so happy I'm not alone! xo

Jeri said...

PAHAHAHAHA!! *wipes tears* Thanks, I needed a good laugh on a gray Monday morning.

That panel must have been amazing! I wish I could've seen it.

Carrie Ryan said...

I'm so happy I'm not alone Jeri and Sarah :) I'll be curious to see if my reality post (coming soon) is close to y'all's reality!

Michelle McDaid said...

Almost cried laughing. I am still going to follow the dream and look forward to a life of finely chutneyed goods. As part of my dream life, I also envisage having some chickens in the back garden which I would talk to between bouts of writing. It will be great.

Celeste said...

I especially love the part where you dress in a cute sporty yoga outfit and make a smoothie ;) My reality post would include forgetting to shower until 6pm when I realize my family is looking for dinner that will inevitably come from a box! (But you knew that, right?)

Deva Fagan said...

I must shamefully admit that this is very much like what I dream my life might be like if I wrote full time (rather than squeezing it in mornings and weekends). And of course I'd have all this free time to play my fiddle and actually improve my garden rather than just fighting to keep the weeds down. Heh.

That said, I am very interested to read Part 2, even if it shatters my dream!

Carrie Ryan said...

Michelle -- we have chickens next door. Sometimes they escape -- I'm glad I'm home to hear that because it's always funny.

Deva and Cessie, even if reality is different than I expected, I wouldn't change it for the world :)

Brenna said...

I'm curious. . . what does your typical day look like if not what you thought it would?

Alyson Greene said...

Wait, stop! It's not like that? It only stands to reason that if I can write and have a time-consuming day job now, then if I'm ever lucky enough to write full time, it just means extra smoothy time, right? Right?

lotusgirl said...

For my life to be like that I'd have to have a housekeeper, a cook and a personal assistant. Alas, I do all the housekeeping, cooking and personal assisting. Speaking of...

Miss Good on Paper said...

Loved reading this!

I also just wrote about the writing life on my new blog; this was perfect timing to discover your site. I can't wait to read more.