Alas, dear readers,
As spring draws to a close and the glorious summer eases into swing, I am here to regretfully announce that after this season, I will be stepping down as the editorial assistant for YARN. Working for YARN has been a monumental experience. I’ve enjoyed so many aspects, including reading all your wonderful submissions. And it has been a joy to work with this group of wonderful people at YARN, who truly appreciate and respect one another, and provide space for each other to grow. I feel tremendously happy to have had the opportunity to be a part of an amazing group of people.
Before I go, I do have a question to pose to all you writers out there. You see, lately, certain aspects of my life have taken up (and will continue to take up) a lot of my time, and I’ve been having trouble “finding the time” for writing. Although I want to be careful to not be too hard on myself, I also do not want to use this as an excuse for not writing. Not only because of Mr. Neil Gaiman’s argument in his 2012 commencement speech for the University of the Arts, but also because life is just a little less satisfying if I’m not making stories.
The question is as follows.
Over the years, I’ve been to a great many number of readings by prose writers, and the question that always lurks amongst the audience is, “What is your writing ritual?” By which the question is seeking, “When do you get to write?” By which the question is enviously and almost accusatorily implying, “How the heck do you find time to write so many words? Don’t you ever get out of the house? Don’t you have other hobbies? Like sleeping?” The question wants to get a whiff of the writing life. The question is about balance: How does it feel to be successfully juggling the shut-in hours of writing with the other exhilarating siren-calls of life?
The answers come back similar in form. I have a schedule. I treat it as a job. Take yourselves seriously, dear young writer, and set aside time consciously. These are good pieces of advice, really, but what I find more telling about these successful writers’ balancing acts is the common detail dropped into almost all of their answers. The common detail is, “Four a.m.”
Four a.m., they say. I get up at four a.m. And I [insert habit here] and then I [insert habit here]. Then I sit down and write until the kids get up/my day job starts/so-and-so needs me for such-and-such.
Perhaps this is a coincidence. Perhaps I just happened to go to readings of authors who have similar writing schedules. But I think there is something more to it.
Here is my bold thought of the day: By delegating writing to a time when it feels like only you are awake in the whole wide world, not only is the writing time “protected,” but also protected is the non-writing time. Along with writing, the “everyday stuff” also gets a boost of importance.
Even thinking about this “protected non-writing time,” I feel a great sense of relief. I can go stress-free to that nine-to-five. I can be guiltless meeting up with friends. And then, when I sit down at my laptop/typewriter/pad of paper, the well will have filled some, and I will have something I want to say.
This is a useful idea, I think, when thinking about the art of earning a living as a young writer and editor. Earning a living is time-consuming. Even if you love your job, which I do, and love the people with whom you work, which I do, it still inevitably takes up a huge chunk of the day. But, if I can section off my writing time to when others are asleep, then perhaps I can think about the job and the other non-writing bits not as “taking away from my writing time” but as “taking their rightful turn” in my multifaceted, wonderful life. Maybe I would even be carefree when I go and live out there in the world, so that I might write, so that I might live…
All right, so waking up at four a.m. is an optional way to balance the writing life and the working life. Does anyone have any other balance techniques? Do you write in small chunks during the day? Do you take two days off and write in caffeine-induced spurts? What’s your writing routine? I’m dying to hear.
All my love,