Advice that is often given is just to write every day. I suppose that’s good advice because sometimes I can find a nugget of worthwhile prose in a page of drivel. Occasionally an idea in my daily jottings turns into a longer piece, but what I have now is several notebooks of random observations and mundane thoughts.
I just finished reading A Broom of One’s Own: Words on Writing, Housecleaning and Life by Nancy Peacock. The author is a writer whose first book was selected by the New York Times as a Notable Book of the Year. Prior to publishing her first book, she dreamed of the day she would be published and her life would change. She could give up her day job as a house cleaner and spend her days writing. Then she was published and nothing changed. After the first whirlwind book tour she still had to pay her bills, so she went back to cleaning houses and writing in her spare time. Sometimes she even found copies of the books she had written on the shelves in the houses that she cleaned. She kept writing because she had to.
Since I’ve retired and started writing more, I find myself thinking about writing all the time. I write myself to sleep at night, working out just the right way to phrase a sentence. On my few excursions out of the house I’m thrilled if something out of the ordinary happens or I see something interesting…like the house on the corner of 11th and Hermiston Avenue. It has been painted pepto bismol pink, everything, the door the trim, one giant pepto pink house…what’s up with that? There’s got to be a story there. When I substituted at the high school last week a student asked me “Did you write about us in your blog?” I understand why Nancy Peacock kept writing. I feel the same way. I have to write.
What has been difficult lately has been actually getting the writing out of my head and into the computer. I had an ah-ha moment when I realized that I was reading all the books about writing to delay the actual process of writing. For me it was a new form of procrastination.
So today I am grateful for writing. It helps me process my thoughts and sometimes gives me insight. But most of all, I write because I like to. I write because I have to. I write because I am a writer.