I started writing a post on Sunday all about attending my friend Susan’s bachelorette party and how the experience almost killed me. Surely I will finish writing that post one day, but tonight I’m not feeling it. And since I set myself the goal of writing 52 posts in 2012, there’s no more time for lollygagging (a word which, apparently, is not in WordPress’ dictionary as it has just underlined it in that offensive red dash). If anyone reading this has a better way to spell lollygag(ging) please leave a note in the comments section. Until then, let’s all agree to unite against the limitations of WordPress’ dictionary.
I’m not sure how many of you have found your way to my girlfriend’s blog via this blog. If you haven’t, you should. She’s smart and funny and a better writer than I. If you have, though, you may have seen her recent post entitled, “How to Talk to a Quiet Person.” It’s an excellent post, and you should definitely read it whether you’re a quiet person or not, but that’s not why I bring this up. I bring up Jen’s (Hello first-time readers. My girlfriend’s name is Jen.) post because it’s over 2000 words long, and she wrote it in about 45 minutes. She sprang out of bed at 5:30 AM, made herself some breakfast, then sat down on our sofa while the cats pestered her and wrote the shit out of an essay. She had the thing put to bed before she even had to come and tell me to get my ass in the shower so we wouldn’t be late for work. Now here’s my question. How in THE HELL did she do that? She claims divine inspiration in the form of having been interrogated about her quietness the night before. I get it, I guess. There have been times when I have awakened with words in my head that had to get out and that did eventually turn into an essay or blog post. But for me it’s normally just the first sentence or two that come out well formed and ready for the outside world to see and then I spend the next 2-4 hours trying to get another 1000-1500 words out, and every moment of it is excruciating. I type. I delete. I stare off into space. I contemplate drinking scotch straight out of the bottle. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s torture.
Back in my single, catless, heavy drinking, nowhere to be in the morning days I had no problem writing at home. I lived in an apartment where the only “decoration” was a line of empty Jim Beam bottles lining the top of my kitchen cabinets. The only thing that could be a potential distraction was the television, but I had a DVR, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t watch LOST some other time. I’d sit at my kitchen table, stare at the blank white wall in front of me and just unload. Maybe it took me the same amount of time then as it does now, but so what if I was up until 2 waxing poetic about something funny that some homeless person said to me. I was finishing up my degree and I probably didn’t have class until noon. Let me tell you, if your only responsibilities in life are to remember to pay rent on time and get your Samuel Beckett read so that you don’t look like a douche during the discussion of Krapp’s Last Tape. (While we’re on the subject of douchebaggery, why did I decide to reference Krapp’s Last Tape instead of something a little less obscure like Waiting for Godot? Oh the pretentiousness. Do I really need to take out my insecurities on you, Reader? Apparently I do.) Anyway, my point is that writing while I was in college was easy, or at least taking the time to do it wasn’t hard. It was still excruciating in the ways I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago, but I suspect that was more to do with the fact that I’d seen plenty of movies with characters who were writers, and they all seemed pretty tortured by their “art,” so I went with that. It’s kind of like how watching Christian Bale in Newsies made me think that probably the best way to deal with being an underpaid, exploited newsboy with dreams of bigger things was to smoke. I don’t even know if Christian Bale’s character smoked in that movie, it was a Disney flick, so probably not. But I very clearly remember feeling a strong connection to his character (obviously) and thinking that smoking looked cool.
What was I just talking about? Oh, right. Writing. I’m easily distracted. As a general rule, I’d rather be hanging out with Jen, so writing at home is tricky. I either have to consciously ignore the fact that I’d rather be hanging out with Jen, or I have to wait until she’s going to bed. Plus there’s always other shit that needs to be done when you’re an out of college, full-fledged grownup. There are dirty clothes to wash, groceries to buy, closets to reorganize. When you reach a certain age, you have to go to the gym frequently or else you just keep gaining weight until you finally get Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease and die. So that’s another time suck. And the other thing about me and writing, especially where blogs are concerned, is that it really needs to happen in bursts. Like I need a solid 3 or 4 hours to set aside all at once in order to write. It takes me a good half hour just to get revved up, so squeezing in 30 minutes here and another 30 minutes there doesn’t do me a lot of good.
So I guess the main thing I’m whining about here is that being an adult is hard. You actually have to MAKE TIME to do the important, yet not mandatory shit. You have to actually decide, yeah, it’s a beautiful spring day, and it would be great to go for a nice long hike with Jen, but I think I’d rather spend 4 precious weekend hours isolating myself and writing instead. Now, people who know me and know my work schedule are going to cry “BULLSHIT” at this complaint, and they’re right to do so. I have a sweet gig right now. Monday through Thursday I drop Jen off at work at 9 in the morning, then I wander across the street to Starbucks, where I sit for 2-4 hours until Jen calls me and tells me to get my ass into work. Oh yeah, for those of you who don’t know me, Jen and I also work together, so we’re together approximately 152 hours a week. About 42 of those hours are spent sleeping, but still. It’s more than most couples. What can I say though, I can’t get enough of her. If you knew her like I do, you’d want to spend every waking moment basking in her glow, too. My point here is that the two reasons no one should feel sorry for me for having to find a few 4 hour chunks a week in which to write, A) I see Jen plenty and will continue to do so for the next 60 or so years, and B) I have huge chunks of time Monday-Thursday mornings, are completely valid. I am a big, fat baby. So much so that I’m regretting writing this post.
The thing is, I wasn’t kidding about needing to be pretty isolated in order to get into my writing head. So now there’s this thing that Jen and I have started doing since we’d both like to make more time for writing. On the weekends we go to the main library at Ohio State. It’s sort of beautiful there. It wasn’t when Jen and I were in school. I think part of my $25,000 in student loan debt contributed to the renovation, so I’m taking advantage of it now. It’s quiet there, with no cats, and they pay someone else to clean it. The new and improved library offers plenty of nice spots for students to read or study or surf Facebook or whatever it is that college students do these days. There’s:
But, like I said, I’m easily distracted (why writing at Starbucks isn’t that productive) and pretty much need to wall myself off from anything that could be sparkly or make sudden movements, like the reflection of the sun off a window across the street from the giant set of windows in the picture above or one of OSU’s many international students peddling by on his bike because he doesn’t have money or time to travel home during spring break. (I actually experienced this a couple weeks ago during OSU’s spring break and instead of writing another post about my insomnia or working on an actual non-bloggy essay, I spent half my time thinking, I wonder where he’s from. It’s really too bad that international air travel is so time consuming and prohibitively expensive. I bet he’s homesick. I wonder what sorts of things other than riding his bike around campus he’s going to do to keep himself busy while everyone else is a way. I bet he’s going to spend all his time studying. American students could really learn a thing or two from their foreign classmates. Like Japanese, or work ethic. Someday that kid on that bike is probably going to rule the world, and rightfully so. He’s here this week trying to get a jump on his calculus studies, not in Ft. Lauderdale trying to feel girls’ boobies. Ooh, look at him go.) Huh, maybe the problem is that I should be writing fiction. So anyway, I’ve paid my alumni dues for the privilege of using Ohio State’s fancy new library so that I can sit and write here:
Apparently when they remodeled the library and bought all the expensive, aesthetically pleasing new furniture, they decided to keep a few of the old study carrels just in case they got any exchange students from East Germany circa 1974 who needed a place they could feel at home. This is up on the 10th floor, all the way at south end of the building behind the American Lit. So if you’re ever hanging out on campus on a Sunday and you want to find me, just take the elevator up to the library’s 10th floor and head past Fitzgerald and Hemingway. When you get to Wharton, just keep going back. I’ll be there along the wall, as close to these greats as my writing will ever find itself, pulling my hair out and craving a drink.