Sitting behind the glass panels, I take the slip of paper offered to me through the opening slit by the gentleman just on the other side. Wielding a large mechanical stamp, I press it swiftly onto the paper. Received, the paper now reads with fresh red ink, slightly dulled by a drying ink pad.
What is my writing space?
Well, the one in my head is a chaotic mess filled with thoughts like the above. At least I’m in good company. If Lev Grossman has thoughts like that and produce The Magician series, then maybe there’s a bit of hope for me. Which reminds me–I need to read that series. There it is again–that unfocused, easily distracted mind that tells me it’s just easier to read than to write. Truth be told, I also regret not making enough time to read too. Lately, I have started reading a book, then another, then another. Now Goodreads tells me I’m currently reading 5 or 6 books, when I’ve actually only finished about 12 this year.
The physical space I write in is just as chaotic. I don’t like to write at my desk at home. First, it’s cluttered with bills, scribbles, unfinished to-do lists, and maybe a cat (who knows she shouldn’t be in that room, let alone on the desk). I sit at a desk all day long, looking at numbers, so when I write, I prefer a more relaxed position. Slouched on my couch isn’t the most healthy position for my back, but at least I’m comfortable. I turn away from the t.v. and towards the kitchen. One would think it’s harder to ignore the t.v. than it is to ignore my kitchen. It’s not–especially when I haven’t done the dishes in over a week.
Finding the time to write and the space to write is hard. It’s hard for everyone. We all have our obstacles, from writer’s block to that inconvenient day job to playful children. I don’t even want to mention the timesuck that is social media.
Why do we do this? Some say writing is therapeutic. In a way, yes, I can say that working my inner thoughts to the surface is somewhat therapeutic. Honestly, sometimes, I feel like writing makes me need therapy. When I sit on my couch, realizing I am about 3000 words behind on my NaNoWri project, I stare at my messy kitchen. Then, that writing space in my head gets muddled with that ever-growing to-do list that I never catch up on.
Writing is making hard choices. Of course, we make choices in our writing. That’s the easy part. The hard part for me is dumping the clutter from my head, my home, my life to find an open guilt-free space to write.
There’s nothing more exciting than buying a new home, moving in and updating it to reflect your own personality. When Cam and I bought our current home a few months ago, we had visions of a beautifully manicured backyard with a vegetable garden and each room perfectly decorated to fit into the theme of that room.
The house was beautiful by itself, and it was the first house we viewed with our realtor. I had eyed it for months while we saved the down payment. When it was finally ours, we changed as much of the interior as we could. Repainting, redecorating, undoing the little mishaps from the previous owner who fancied himself a handyman (but was clearly not). We knew we were going to make the house even better than the previous owners.
As it turns out, it’s more like we’re “those neighbors.” With two large dogs, they’ve gnawed on the edges of the deck. We tell ourselves, “it’s ok, we were going to build a bigger deck anyway.” My garden didn’t last their desire to dig (even with a fence around it and a separate digging box for them). That’s ok. We will build a bigger fence next year. With the late summer and autumn rains, their muddy paws streaked the siding of the house. We just keep saying that we’ll fix and our home will be perfect. We have a beautiful patio right off the deck with a lovely fireplace. Until we moved there, I wasn’t aware that stones could be dug up from a patio with little doggy paws.
A month after moving in, I locked our cat in the closet and she clawed at the carpet. No worries, we need new carpet anyway, because the dog got sick in the hallway and that won’t come up. This morning, a huge gnawed hole in the carpet in our bedroom showed up. Hmm, I wonder which of our four-legged critters did that?
I also keep reminding Cam that if we had kids, it might be worse, with Kool-Aid stains, crayon drawings on the walls, or even more vomit-y stains everywhere. It could always be worse.
Now, I’m not saying we ruined the house. It’s still in perfectly livable condition. I’m just gonna say, we don’t really need that new carpet anymore. What’s the point of new carpet if our cats are just going to vomit all over it too?
We had an idea of what the home was going to be when we moved in, but really it’s just a little bit bigger than the house we just came from. It’s still a bit too messy all the time. We blamed it previously on the lack of space. Now we blame it on crammed schedules. The beautiful kitchen I have now rarely gets cooked in. I used to blame that on the terribly small kitchen we had at the condo.
Originally, we had the idea that the home would reflect our personalities, or maybe just the personalities we wanted. Keeping everything spotless, cooking all the time, having regular parties were all things we envisioned. In real life, we’d rather take the dogs on a hike or sleep in and read. As it turns out, our home reflects who we really are–two people who have better things to do than worry about how perfect our house looks.
As part of Writing 101, I decided to focus Assignment #2 on a list of things I’ve learned over nearly a year of blogging. There have definitely been some ups and downs. Overall, I have learned a lot about blogging, writing, and what works for me. So here’s my list:
- Proofreading: Ok, I can get in a panic sometimes. I’ll look at my blog and realize I need to post something today, and I’ll write something as quickly as possible and hit that post button as soon as I can, only to have to edit it all later. I know there are still a ton of grammatical errors that I’ve overlooked, but I’ve learned to take some extra time to proofread (and have my fiance edit it as well).
- Post regularly: I’ve learned this, over and over. There have been huge periods over the past month I didn’t post at all. I don’t really have a schedule yet, but that is something I am also working on.
- Don’t really worry about the stats all the time: Sometimes I obsess over the stats, but more and more lately, I go out of my way not to look at them more than once a day. They are quite useful, which brings me to my next point.
- Use the stats to determine which topics are the most popular: I never would have thought board games would be our most popular topic. That’s why we write about them a lot now.
- Read and comment on other blogs: It really is the key to building a community
- Don’t be afraid: I used to be afraid of posting fiction, but now I’m more confident. It’s a safe place to get honest, but useful criticism
- Enjoy myself: If I can’t do this, then it’s time to stop blogging.
- Participate in events and regular features: Not only does it help introduce me to new blogs and introduce readers to my blog, I can stretch my writing muscles a bit with trying something different.
- Take a break when I need it: If I don’t feel like I have much to say, I don’t have to. It doesn’t need to sound forced
- Get out and have new experiences to write about: If I’m in a lull and can’t find inspiration, if I get out and find something to do, it can always fall nicely under the Personal Category.
During November, I decided to sign up for Blogging 101 (since I actually failed to finish it back in January due to a crazy schedule) and Writing 101. I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, working a part-time retail job in additional to my full-time position, AND trying to maintain my health and figure for a wedding dress I’ve preemptively purchased 6 months before the set date. So, while there are a few things I have learned over the last year, not biting off more than I can chew wasn’t one of them.