Writing can feel like a selfish act. It takes peace, quiet, and time to write, all commodities that are in short supply in modern America.
I used to write on the sly at work. Did it for years. Not a lot, mind you, because working full-time tends to drain my creativity. But when I’d feel the inspiration hit, and I wasn’t terribly busy with my work, I’d sneak a few minutes here and there to jot down a poem or part of an essay. (I even worked on a novel, but it’s unfinished, and for good reason: it sucks.)
Recently I made the selfish decision to not go back to a workplace, but to write. This was not a decision that came easily, nor without a life-adjustment on the part of my whole family. Some of my writing is freelance work for which I get paid, but a lot of it lately, like this piece, is a gamble. I’m giving myself permission to write what I want to write, just to see where that gets me.
I say it’s“selfish,” because of course, not everyone has my luxury, especially not in this country. But I can get away with it, at least for a time. So I’m taking this opportunity, at this juncture in my life, to write for writing’s sake, and whatever happens, happens.
I’m living the writer’s life.
I can’t lie. It’s been great. I’ve written more lately than I ever have, and I think maybe this is the right time. I’m old enough now that I have plenty to write about, for one thing. I don’t mean that as a slight to young writers. There are so many brilliant young writers out there. But getting old means you’ve seen some shit, and lived some shit, some of it crazy, and along the way you’ve learned why people think the way they do and what motivates them.
The incredible peace that comes with having time to write is insanely good. Like heroin. (If I knew what heroin felt like.) Last night, for instance, I started writing poems about flowers. I dunno where it came from. I just happened. I felt like a painter inspired to sit down and sketch.
There’s something different that happens, at least for me, when I have time to let the words percolate and bubble out onto the page, rather than trying to cram as many words as possible into a free moment here are there. It’s a different feeling, a different pace, and the words seem to come from a deeper place.
Given the opportunity to create, freely, without the constraint of having to figure out how to sell it, though … that’s a rare and valuable pleasure, and not one I take lightly.