The Writing Life

Two months into calling myself a full-time writer (in a season filled with swapping what-do-you-dos over turkey and egg nog and pecan pies) and I’m here to report that I’ve done a lot of laundry. I’ve tried some new recipes, like the coffee-rubbed pot roast simmering all day in the slow cooker. I’ve walked to the library and back, and then to the library and back (rediscovering the movie section), ever regretful of the steps left untaken on my mostly dusty FitBit.

I’ve talked to a 91-and-a-half-year-old over cinnamon rolls about how much she loves words. She hopes to one day show me her book of quotes. Her grandson (a keeper who wants to get lost in the mountains with me) introduces me as a professional writer. And I wonder what that even means.

I mean, I professionally worry that my writing will never find beauty like hers, or dance like hers, or grow like hers.

I count how many times I use “I,” wondering if I’ll ever wake up selfless enough to paint beautiful stories about a life that has little to do with my speck-of-dust self.

Speaking of dust, I wander around and notice how many dusty surfaces have ganged up against me in my house. I contemplate cleaning, but mostly I dwell in a contemplative state over this dust. Where does it come from? If I clean it now, won’t it just come back again?

Reading. Every good writer reads. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Every good writer watches Hallmark Christmas movies?

Music. Does it help or hurt? Spark or squash?

Candles. Which scent makes these keys move faster? Which flicker moves my heart?

Every day, I see my handwriting on my mirror in dry-erase marker with the title of my future book. I talk to people about writing a book. I write about worrying about when this book will ever show up written.

Perhaps this post is written only for writers. Or perhaps not. Maybe it’s for the full-time humans, the wanderers, the dreamers. The busybusybusy-ies folding towels and wrapping gifts and pressing thumbs in sugar cookies. For those out hiking mountains, or home by the evergreen napping.

Instead of regretting all that we’ve left undone, unsaid, unwritten, all the steps we’ve left untaken, we can choose to look forward to the hope of a new year, a new beginning. (I’m always a sucker for new beginnings.)

For the writers: the writing life is a living life. A noticing life. And when we sit down to capture the smells and the sounds, to remember the details that bubble up, it’s never a chore. It’s a great, great privilege.

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