24 September 2012

To Be Free and Poor, or Scheduled and Stable. . .

There are very few conditions that are fundamentally essential to the composition of a novel.
You no longer even need pen and paper.
But you do need time and solitude, and I lack sufficiency of both. . . 
~ Jesse Browner, Lives of the Civil Servants


S
olitude.  That is a pipe dream.  As is time.  Like Browner, I find myself in short supply of both these writerly necessities.  He does mention getting up before dawn to write.  Such a thing would be a luxury for me at this point.  I am usually already tooling towards the train station just as Brother Sun is blinking one blurry eye.  I suppose I could write while riding the train. 

But let’s face it, there’s not much inspiration happening when instead of tossing and turning in your own bed, you’re forced to toss and turn on a springy train seat.


Stop Complaining, Start Writing
Lack of writing surfaces and springy seats aside, though, the point is, if I really care about something, then I will move heaven and earth to make it happen.  And in this case, it is about finding the time ~ however short the increments may be ~ to write.  Even if it’s just penning an idea for a poem in a notebook, or scribbling down the opening lines of a novel on the back of a utility bill, I need to find the time.

For years I blamed my job.  You know, the one that actually pays the bills.  Just look at all those lovely eight hours a day that could be spent writing!  Browner thought the same thing.  As a civil servant, he has a great life, is financially stable, and still managed to publish five novels.  And he points out that free-lancing, while it is freeing, it is also 
A very stressful way to make a living, and any freedom it wins you to devote yourself to your own projects is more than counterbalanced by the constant worry of nailing down the next assignment and paying the bills.  It is very difficult to focus on your work when you are always stressed about  money.
Amen, brother!  Now that is a grief of which I am well acquainted!  And for all I complain about it, this 9-5er doesn’t have to worry about my day job duties while I’m at home, and as Browner observes, “my mind is clouded by no such mundane concerns, and is free to roam.” Yet even with those five published novels, he still wonders if he made the right choice of stability and scheduled solitude over endless solitude and financial stress.

It’s an interesting question, and for me, the lure of financial security is worth having to snatch at and schedule my solitary writing time.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
I’m interested to hear what my readers (and writers and artists) have to say about this.  What do you think?
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