I have a fantasy that I cherish. In the fantasy, I am a WRITER and I live the WRITING LIFE. In the morning, I rise from my bed with a head full of ideas and peppy words tumbling over one another in their exuberance to get onto the page. I make coffee, feed the cats, and sit down to hours of productive, satisfying writing. I then lunch and have a rejuvenating ramble in the woods. When I return, I put in a few more quiet hours of work on my newest novel. I end my day with a good read in bed, and drift off to deep slumber. Repeat.
This fantasy does not include laundry, grocery shopping, preparing meals, mopping floors, weeding gardens, or cleaning up the occasional hairball. It does not include the responsibility of being the caregiver for my mostly blind, 90-year-old grandmother who lives with me. In the fantasy, I seem to live bolstered by miraculous wealth and servants, or to reside in the Beast’s magic house where the animated china prepares the meals. I most certainly do not have a DAY JOB.
Ah, the day job. The source of sustenance and pride as a productive member of society. The bane of my writer’s soul as it sucks up days of precious writing time. I love my day job. I’m a massage therapist with my own practice. I work from an office at my home, so I’m spared commuting. My clients are the best people in the world. I hate my day job. Wonderful as it is, it is not what I want to do. I want to write. I want to pursue a ghost of a goal, one that offers no certainty that hard work will pay off. A goal that may, in the end, be unachievable. I want to torture myself.
This is the churning, rending interface between real life and the fantasy of the writing life. This is the maelstrom that drowns many a writer. They go down moaning, “No time to write, no time to write.” I’ve gone under enough times to know the despair. But there is time to write. It isn’t always unbroken, generous, or satisfactory. But it is there if you seize it. The elusive nature of these bits of time requires a staunch work ethic to capture and use effectively. I’m still working on this, the big D – DISCIPLINE. After all, if you write, you are living the writing life.