Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mucking Around

Annie Dillard writes, in her essay To Fashion a Text, "It's a privilege to muck around in sentences all morning." Each morning before (paid) work, I open the laptop for 2 hours to wade through the muck. Sometimes the words flow and constructing sentences is a pleasure. 

It can be difficult to click 'shut down' and prepare for the 15-minute drive down the backcountry road, past the sheep fields and old farms, to the school where toddlers hold up their arms to be held. Most days I have to remind myself that it is, indeed, a privilege to write. But that knowledge doesn't make the task any easier.

According to New Zealand poet, novelist and memoirist Janet Frame, "The only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and never written, or talked about... but simply written: It's a dreary awful fact that writing is like any other work."

In December I clocked 70 hours of writing -- mostly working on various statements of purpose for my graduate school applications (3) -- while neglecting other projects (and blogs). I'm proud of the nose-to-the-grindstone discipline but embarrassed by my plodding pace. While my partner speed reads her novel in an evening, my double-wide pile of to-be-read texts towers higher on my nightstand each week.

Soon I'll send in those applications and get back to the task of shaping stories for submission. Until then, the fog rolls over the sunrise and the coyotes sing through the night.

Dear reader,
How do you structure your days to support writing? (Do you write a certain amount each day or week, or set a time frame for writing? Do you write every day?)

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