Sunday, July 19, 2009


I’ve been meaning to write the counterpoint blog to Writing and Leisure, and I haven’t gotten around to it because I’ve been, well...writing. Which I guess is the counterpoint right there. That is, while it’s true that writing requires room and time, what’s even more true is that writing requires—first, foremost, and always—BiC.

Butt in Chair.

Once, years ago, I was invited to attend a support group/networking meeting for women in the creative arts. The moderator went around the room and asked each of us to visualize and describe a perfect workday. One aspiring writer described her day in such wondrous detail, I’ve never forgotten it. First, she would wake up to the sound of birds singing and sunshine streaming through her gauzy white curtains. Then, after a delicious breakfast, she’d spend the day sitting under a venerable oak tree, listening to the wind and the bees; following this, a horseback ride through a meadow, capped by gathering wildflowers. She would then cook a fabulous dinner for friends and spend the evening, eating, drinking wine, telling stories, laughing and sharing. Then, at long last, she would...fall into bed.

This, she said, would be just the ticket to put her in the frame of mind necessary to create.

I never went to another meeting. I was a total newbie, but I already knew enough to realize that was two hours I could have been writing.

Frame of mind has nothing to do with it. Having the right computer software, the best computer, the most organized desk, an ergonomic desk chair, a certain allotment of hours has nothing to do with it. Even that most-oft-invoked prerequisite, inspiration, has very little to do with it.

Just about the only thing that has anything to do with writing is actually writing.

In a lovely bit of synchronicity, as I was thinking about this post I stumbled across this poem by novelist Charles Bukowski.

air and light and time and space

"–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

© Charles Bukowski, Black Sparrow Press

Butt. In. Chair. Fingers on keyboard or pen or pencil or sharpened quill. Go.



Blogger Melissa Marsh said...

AMEN. Very well said.

2:13 PM  
Blogger lkmadigan said...

That woman was describing a spa weekend ... not a workday. Were the writing fairies going to stop by during the night and write 1000 words on her novel?


8:49 PM  
Blogger Christine Fletcher said...

Ooh, writing fairies! I want!

I think this person was under the impression that one cannot write unless one's day/life are perfect, and that once all is in harmony, then words will flow.

(Pardon me while I laugh hysterically).

I hope she got past that and began to actually write; she certainly had strong descriptive powers! :)

11:56 AM  
Blogger Marybeth said...

Point well taken, and after our visit when you mentioned those very points, I have been making an actual effort to write- excuses be damned.

But a writing fairy would be nice....

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Nowak said...

So true. And I'll bet you're very familiar with the cat crawling up your back part. :)

I love that last bit about a longer life to create new excuses.

12:09 PM  

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