(Hint: Not like this.)
My typical writing day looks a lot like feeding dogs, feeding kids, walking dogs, driving for hours, sitting at a desk, driving for more hours, and scrolling through Facebook. And then feeding dogs and kids again.
But here's what I WANT my typical writing day to look like:
I want to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to find a pot a pot of freshly brewed coffee sitting on the counter and a blue mug beside it pre-sprinkled with cinnamon. I want the dogs to be potty trained. I want to carry my blue mug, smelling of cinnamon-laced coffee, to an office in an attic where a comfortable chair awaits, where my laptop opens directly to the document I last worked on, where one window looks out onto the ocean gleaming in the early morning sun.
Never mind that I live three hours inland. And don't have an attic.
My ideal writing day continues: I work without interruption (except for gazing thoughtfully out at the gulls, who are screaming, but not in a scary way) until I feel the faint stirrings of hunger, and then I retreat to the kitchen where a bowl of soup steams on the counter. (I like to eat soup for breakfast.) I eat standing up, doing some more thoughtful gazing, and no one says a word to me because although the coffee and soup are (magically?) prepared without any effort on my part, the house around me is empty.
After I eat, I pour more coffee and head back to my attic and complete a full 23 pages of stellar, nearly error-free writing that lots of people will want to read.
When my work day is done, I pour a well-deserved glass of wine and read a whole book. I drift off to sleep, secure in the knowledge that I am super good at what I do, that my life is exactly right, that it will continue as such until the day I die painlessly in my sleep.
I know, I know. If this really were my writing day, I'd be bored. I'd invest in a flat screen television. I'd get some parrots.
In reality, I do most of my writing in the car waiting to pick up kids and ferry them to their next station. I write while perched on a bench at the karate dojo while my youngest son learns how to beat the crap out of potential attackers. I write, yes, at 4:30 in the morning, but coffee doesn't magically appear and my quiet hours don't last long—there are children to greet and care for, animals that rely on me, a husband forever losing his phone.
And I write at my office. I work as an editor for a children's nonfiction book publisher, and I write a lot during the work day. I write press releases, e-newsletters, blog posts, sidebars, emails to authors and industry experts, and loads of other stuff. And while I love my job, this isn't exactly the kind of writing that feeds my soul.
That's the kind of writing I do in the cracks between the slabs that serve as the foundation of my days. The notes I jot down on receipts. The line I manage to hold in my head while driving home from school and listening to three kids tell me about their days. That character who has such an attitude, she won't back down even as I dump marketing initiatives and editorial calendars on her head. There is no typical day of this real writing, because it just happens whenever it can, wherever it can find the space.
Maybe someday, when the boys are grown, I will have an attic office and large blocks of uninterrupted time. And probably all that time and headspace will prove to be the antithesis to my writing, and I'll get a whole bunch more dogs to create a whole new set of the obstacles that seem to allow me to thrive.
Until then... I find those cracks.
Thanks for stopping by,
WAVES by Andi Diehn, illustrated by Shululu
Nomad Press, March 2018