The Sink is Clean and The Milk is Fine

I was talking with a friend the other day who told me that his profession has already begun taking over his whole life. His thoughts are always consumed by it, even though he has only just begun studying it. And he told me that he hated this.

I thought about this for a while. I’ve been sort of realizing the same thing lately. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get away from literature.

Our apartment is literally overflowing with boxes. We haven’t unpacked them mostly because we don’t have any more room. Shows you that moving from a house to an apartment is rather difficult. I miss our basement in Rhode Island. The truth is, most of the boxes are full of books. Our guest room/office is crawling with books. Every flat surface in the room has a stack of books. And the closet? Packed with boxes filled to the brim with books. My desk is covered with cards and letters I’ve written or that I am going to read. There’s a large box of personalized stationary on my desk (thanks to my husband). About five notebooks. A manuscript waiting to be read and reviewed. A book waiting to be read and reviewed. My kindle is also on my desk. Mgo got it for me, hoping it would lessen our book load. I love my kindle, but there’s nothing like the smell and feel of a real book. There post-its scattered around that are notes to myself about articles that I’m working on, and stories that I’m writing. Sometimes I find such notes at the bottom of my purses, on our coffee table (sorry, honey!), on my nightstand, and sometimes even in the kitchen.

The truth is, I have bouts of not wanting to be a writer anymore. Some days, I don’t even want to approach my desk. I try to ignore the glares my books give me as I walk by. I put my journals away. I shut the office door. I read Glamour or Cosmopolitan just to get my mind off of writing. I watch television for hours at a time, scrub the sink until my skin gets so dry it cracks and bleeds, take very long walks, get up and go to Trader Joe’s because the milk might be bad, take naps, reorganize the medicine cabinet…well, you get the picture. But when I read Glamour, a picture or sentence sets off a potential scene or image for my story-in-progress. As I scrub, walk, and drive, I think about the conversation my characters are currently having and work it out in my head. When I nap, I have nightmares about losing all my work. I literally cannot get away from my writing.

This frustrates me, and I think that by not writing, I am rebelling. Maybe I am. But when I don’t write, I get even more frustrated. My stories loom over me and poke at me and shake their fingers at me if I don’t address them.

I recently read an article in The Writer (yes, even the magazines I read are about writing) and quickly cut out a paragraph and pasted it in my journal. Here’s what it says:

“Discipline means putting your butt in the seat every day at the appointed time, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s easy to keep your appointment with yourself on those days when you’re bursting with energy and have a great idea. It’s more difficult when you feel like you’d rather be doing anything else. But that’s when discipline matters most, because even on low-output days, when you might only manage a sentence, that’s a sentence more than you had the day before. And books are written one sentence at a time.”

–From “Self-Help for the Budding Novelist” by William Kowalski

The real truth is, if I don’t write, then I’m not a writer.

Literature does consume me. But I can’t say I don’t love it. I can’t say I don’t enjoy putting a story together. I can’t say I don’t enjoy hanging out with my characters all day long. I certainly can’t say I don’t feel immense satisfaction when a story finally works.

Whatever your profession is, I hope you love it as much as I love mine. Whether you’re an insurance agent, sell used cars, or are a stay-at-home mom, I hope your work brings you a sense of joy and accomplishment.

So by writing this post, I have forced myself to put my butt in my seat, at my desk, among my writing tools and ideas.

And today I will add at least one new sentence to my story.

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