I write because I am compelled to. I have always written but three years ago the voices in my head (given assistance by a few very good, loving friends) insisted that if I wished to stay alive, then Writing – with a capital “W” – was what I had to pursue. That I should – no MUST be a “Writer” writing full-time. The vociferous voices in my head and the berating beatings of my heart and the demanding truth-teller in my soul insisted that after spending long years of molding my life story into shapes that facilitated other people being able to live and tell their stories, fulfill their dreams, it was now my turn and I must take it, or die.
I’m not now and likely never will be Stephen King famous. Hell, I doubt I’ll even achieve…… Renata Adler famous. But, on various platforms, in various formats, my formulation of thoughts into the written word as essay, new-age philosophy and tutelage, photo commentary, pop culture observations and criticism, and curation of the images and thoughts of others is followed, read, or – at the very least – clicked on by a few thousand people a week.
That’s exciting for me.
This is my morning routine: I crawl out of bed, take my top-spiral notebook and pen with me to the kitchen where I make a Keurig-cup of coffee, and I head outside where I smoke, drink coffee, and make morning notes of whatever thoughts happen to push their way to the front of my mind. Eventually – sometimes after five minutes and one cigarette, sometimes after an hour and more than one cigarette, I return to my desk where I arrange the following; water, coffee, donuts (well, only on Sunday and, if leftovers, Monday), multiple pairs of specs (one pair for writing, one for walking), multiple pens (different specific brands and models required for notepad, index cards, journals), and my smart-phone. I sit then, toiling away at my desktop computer on which I check this blog for hits and comments, then spend an hour or so trolling the sites from which I gain insight into the zeitgeist, inspiration from other writers and pop culture fanaticists, information about my friends from their various social media postings, and too, I do some stalking of people.
I listened to the voices and so, I am Writer.
In addition to maintaining that daily production, I also work on my in-progress novels and continue to submit my completed novel (well, pieces of it) in pursuit of an agent to represent me. I follow a self-imposed schedule, the details of which I don’t divulge because I’ve a fetishistic superstition about secrecy when it comes to my writing. I think it is bad luck to discuss how many agents or publications to which I’ve submitted my work and I also think it is boring. It’s part of the grind – a grind I am grateful to be able to pursue – but, nonetheless, a grind required in order that I can continue to have the hours I spend living in the stories and thoughts and voices in my head.
Now, I have a lovely, blessed life – I am NOT complaining. But, following those voices three years ago came at rather a hefty cost of eviscerating evictions both physical and emotional (and following the voices was, as all stories are, just one of many threads and sub-plots of a much larger whole story) and it is only in the past week I have begun to experience real clarity and soul-quiet enough to really listen to and hear my own voices.
Which is a beautiful thing. And shocking.
This is the life I imagined I would be having:
This is the life I actually am having:
That’s the same Manhattan location of 5th Avenue and 13th. In the top photo from the 1940’s it was occupied by a Schrafft’s and in the bottom, more recent photo, it houses a vacant, graffitied spot fallen into dishabille, its past glory invisible.
I’d hoped my writing would take off in ways it has not. I’d hoped to find (create) my own Algonquin-like, Bloomsbury-ish, Velvet Quill community of other authors. I’d a fantasy of the world of literary thinkers with whom I’d become enmeshed – work-wise, life-wise, love-wise – a very minor celebrity able to make a living and live that living in Manhattan by producing baroque, throwback prose reminiscent of that Schrafft’s era. That time, that feeling for which I long when communicating one’s soul was about more than 140 character posts and snarky cartoons invented by others to shorthand one’s mood on Facebook. A time without smartphones and texting and instant connections and Grindr; a time when seeing someone, meeting someone, spending time with someone required planning, calendars, invitations, and intent; more than “what r u doing?” A time when writing was digested and discussed rather than scanned, re-posted and marketed.
Now, three years later, having weeded my emotional garden of those for whom I turned myself into someone I was not, having surrounded myself with a core of people who would gladly sit with me at Schrafft’s in the 1940’s, people for whom I am worth planning, worth going out of their way, worth questioning their own assumptions, worth loving, people who support me who I am – not who they need me to be so as to serve their scenarios – I am going to begin the rehab of that glorious 5th Avenue and 13th corner of my soul. I’m taking down the boards, one by one. Shoring up the foundation every day. And here, in this blog, writing my life.
And building – no, re-building – the soul I let deteriorate into disuse, forgetting what it was, what it had been, what it could be, and arriving here, where I am, going, at Writing: My Life. A beautiful, awesome thing.