Thanks to the omniscient power of the internet, I recently reconnected with my best friend from middle school.
My friend and I will forever share the bond of having spent roughly 87 percent of our seventh grade year in search of dirty magazines and effective places in which to cache them. But our present lives have somewhat less in common. He’s an attorney, and I’m a writer. He lives in a red state, while mine is solidly purple. How the social media gnomes knew to suggest our connection suggests a powerful and alarming kind of magic. The kind of magic that I would very much like to exploit for my own wealth and self-promotion.
Regardless of whatever voodoo orchestrated our reintroduction, I’m glad to have had the chance to reconnect again after two decades. In the process of catching up, though, my childhood friend asked me a question that I wasn’t quite prepared for.
He asked me what it is, exactly, that writers do all day.
I would have relished being able to offer some eternal aphorism like, “The writer’s life is a pendulum that sweeps a diurnal path between espresso and Scotch,” but that’s simply not the case. Sometimes I choose bourbon instead.
So what is it that I do all day? Well, I wake up most days around the same time, scratch the itchy bits du jour, drink far too much coffee, and then hope the ensuing BM will be every bit as gratifying as I had imagined it would be. Two or three mornings a week I treat myself to a round of torment-for-hire. But that’s about where any sense of continuity ends. After that, every day is different.
I certainly enjoy days in which the words begin flowing during breakfast and continue their progression all the way through to the evening at 120 to 150 beats per minute (today is shaping up to be so). But there are also days in which I’m not so much a wordsmith as a citizen of Emerald City:
We get up at twelve and start to work at one,
Take an hour for lunch and then at two we’re done.
There are times when I furiously tap away at my keyboard before I forget what I need to say. And then there are times when I suddenly realize that I’ve been staring out the window for close to half an hour.
Some days I write for this blog. Others, I write for clients. On still others, I write content for my upcoming book. My choice of what to write depends as much on how many checks I’ve received in the last week as it does upon the whimsical neural patterns that narrowly escape sleep’s greedy clutches when the cat jumps on my head at four o’clock in the morning.
You see, there is no realistic description of what a writer does all day. It’s different for all of us, every day. The romantic image of the contemplative author who allows hour after hour to saunter by as he alternates between chewing his pen and scribbling down little fits of inspiration is nothing more than that. A romantic image. An illusion.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I was just staring out the window, and I saw a couple of windmills that need chasing. But don’t worry. I’ll be back in time for the Scotch.