There’s a pair of my husband’s slacks slung over the back of a kitchen chair. They’ve been there for several days, with a frayed knee waiting to be mended. Navy cotton duck doesn’t talk, so why is there a trace of taunting going on every time I pass by? They know mending isn’t high on my priority list right now, and navy doesn’t wear the accumulating dust all that well.
I really do have good intentions each morning, but the day always disappears into my computer monitor. I suspect my husband has long since resigned himself to finding alternatives in the closet until after I finish my current writing project.
The truth is, I’d rather write than mend any day. In a Writer Unboxed column last spring, author Barbara O’Neal admitted as a girl her fantasy about the life of a professional writer involved “a cottage by the sea in England… a cat on the windowsill and a dog by the fire.” In a recent interview on Angelina C. Hansen’s blog, daughter Shari Green was asked about her fantasy writing space and she mentioned “a window overlooking the sea.”
Being a writer means escaping into the world of our characters, but that rarely happens in the idealistic settings we visualized in our aspiring-author dreams. More often we’re scooping precious slices of writing time out of our household duties, or while sitting in the car waiting for the school bell to release youngsters, or wiping crumbs and coffee rings from pages during our lunch break in a crowded staff room.
When we’re not scrambling for writing time, we’re probably checking off rejection letters against our submissions spreadsheet, stressing over a possible deal, or wondering if we can possibly make the deadline for the next round of edits. During ulcer-inducing moments we may wonder where our pre-publication fantasies went. Where’s the rewarding lifestyle we dreamed of? What’s the point of all this?
Barbara O’Neal says, “…The biggest rewards are intrinsic. For the curious, questing, intelligent minds that turn to writing, there is nothing more thrilling than eternally tackling a pursuit that cannot ever be fully mastered. There is the chortling joy of learning something new, every single book. There is the pleasure of research and world-building and story design; there is detail enough for any geek of any ilk. And there is the bone deep satisfaction of sticking with it, and seeing a row of books against the wall, work that would not exist at all had you not persisted.”
Ah, that’s it exactly! I’m not there yet, but that’s an acceptable reality to work towards.
Did you ever fantasize about what the writer’s life would be like? Did your dreams include delusions of grandeur?