For today we get a special treat: The Writer’s Center’s new director, Charlie Jensen. Charlie is a writer himself, and recently published a poem in the Columbia Poetry Journal. (Coincidentally, Writer’s Center board member E. Ethelbert Miller was published in the same issue. Check it out here (we have copies on hand in our bookstore).
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Now on to Charlie:
Being a writer, for most of us, often means being what I call a “writer-plus.” We’re writers and mothers, or writers and stock traders, or writers and bus drivers, or—at the very least—writers and readers. Being a writer-administrator is a pretty great gig. I spend my entire day thinking about ways to get people excited about or involved in literature. I feel, you might say, like one of the luckiest people on the planet.
But then I go home after work, and I have a dog to feed, an apartment that seems to need constant cleaning despite my best efforts to remain “neat,” a DVR chock full of reality shows and old movies, a guitar longing to be played, several exciting red envelopes from Netflix, and a stack of unread magazines on everything from the newest pop music releases to which mandoline slicer best represents my personality and cooking style.
I call this “life pollution.” Except for the my dog; she’s adorable!
It can be the hardest thing to come home after a long day at work and decide to write or not. I mean, there’s laundry. There are dirty dishes. There’s a stack of mail I was too reluctant to open when it arrived and the stack of mail I opened and decided I had to keep somewhere. I can sense the rapid descent of dust onto every flat surface in my home, the quiet gurgle of the bathtub as it begins to choke on a developing clog, and then I need to sleep.
And having just moved to DC recently, I’m currently fortunate enough to not have a hopping social life to distract me from all of these concerns.
A few nights last week, I did write. Not very much and not for very long, but I probably got another 5 or 6 pages done in a long piece I’ve been working on. And I know in my heart that this is how work gets done: like Michaelangelo facing down a big brick of marble, we only get closer to the end by chipping away at it piece by piece, hour by stolen hour. In our minds, the time it takes to sit down and begin writing feels like so much more of an investment than the time it actually takes to sit down and write. In thirty minutes, I can wipe my mind clean with half a Project Runway, a surface sweep cleaning of the apartment, a long walk with the dog—or I can write a few pages.
If I wrote 2 pages a day for a year, I’d have a 730-page novel. Even if I only wrote 5 days a week, for 30 minutes after work, that’s still 520 pages. And that’s practically a Gore Vidal novel!
My advice to myself this week: two pages at a time. One day at a time. Chip away with those stolen hours….