I’m not sure I’ve looked out of the window today.
Although I’m pretty sure it looks the same as it did yesterday, out there. Snow on the ground, melting too slowly.
But all day, I’ve been staring at the computer screen, revising my Folkroots column. (I mentioned that it was due on the 1st, right? And today is the 3rd. How I hate having to ask for extra time! Because I know it’s important to get things in by the deadline, in publishing. Especially magazine publishing. I’m revealing my lateness to you only because, you know, you and I can talk about these things. Because we’re writers, or whatever it is we are. But if I’m going to be honest about my process here, I have to tell you about when I’m not doing as well as I would like, don’t I?)
I did the research a long time ago, and I meant to finish the column a long time ago as well. But I had something come up, an academic deadline I had to meet. It took all my time to meet it, and so the column was put aside for a couple of weeks, and then there was the end of the month, and I only had a few days to complete it. No matter how much you already have, producing a final manuscript always takes time and effort. Especially when it involves research, as the Folkroots columns do.
(But I learned so much! I had no idea that fairies were so complicated. There’s quite a lot I haven’t been able to get into the column because I simply don’t have the space. For example, did you know that during the witch trials, in the 16th and17th centuries, witches were often associated with fairies? Consorting with the Queen of Fairies was a common confession at the witch trials. Fairies were essentially seen as demons, and agents of the Devil.)
I suppose this is a blog post about being the kind of writer I am, which is the kind that writes a regular column, and is regularly asked to submit stories for anthologies, and so has to meet deadlines. Once I send this column in later tonight, I will have one more deadline this month, for a project that I can’t talk about yet but am incredibly excited about. It was another assignment I started some time ago that was interrupted by that academic deadline, and I’m so looking forward to getting back to it. What does it take to be that kind of writer? Well, organization for one. The ability to look at a deadline and determine how many words I need to write by when. And second, the ability to sit down and write and not get up again until the assignment is done. You know, the “butt in chair” principle. I think I learned that as a lawyer.
But this is so much more fun than being a lawyer. All the writing I do, all the creative writing (the column, the stories, eventually the novels) give me such joy. Perhaps the real benefit to having been a corporate lawyer is that in comparison, everything else is wonderful. And I don’t have to do it in high heels! If you could see me now: black t-shirt, black yoga pants, black socks. Sitting in my chair in a sort of half lotus position, because I’m not flexible enough to do a full lotus. Listening to Seanan McGuire singing “Cartography“:
“I know you; I met you
A long, long time ago.
But you’re still a stranger,
There’s so much I don’t know.
“Can I walk across your borders?
Will your guardsmen let me through?
I have empty hands and pockets.
I intend no harm to you.
“So tell me your stories
And I might tell you mine;
We’re both getting closer
To once upon a time.”
I think it’s my third favorite song on Wicked Girls, after “The Snow Queen Dreams” and “Wicked Girls”:
“So trust me; believe me
When I say I’ll take care.
I can’t come the whole way;
I’ll meet you halfway there.
“Come and wander through my cities,
Meet the people I have been.
I have left my gates unguarded.
You are welcome, please, come in.”
It’s a love song, of course. Sort of a love song with cartography. And this is my favorite stanza:
“We are each of us an island,
With our separate rocky shores,
But an island’s not a prison –
That’s what men make bridges for.”
We are not each solipsistically imprisoned in the self, are we? We are capable of reaching out, of building bridges. Of understanding one another . . . (We are none of us meant to be, or feel, alone.)
And I have glasses on, and my hair is a complete mess. And I’m eating a formerly-frozen organic vegetable tamale with black beans. And later I will be eating cherry amaretto coconut milk ice cream.
It’s as though I’ve created a cocoon around myself, made up of all sorts of things I love, and I’m doing the work I love, and that’s wonderful and gives me a sense of joy, even though at the moment I’m completely exhausted and really should be doing yoga for my back rather than typing this.
But I think this is the writing life, isn’t it? It’s spending a lot of time in front of a computer and writing. And you know, I love it. So, so much.