It’s 1:30 pm. Kansas City. I’m at work. My boss is gone for the holidays until next year, bless his heart. He’s a great guy, a great boss, and I love him, but everybody is less stressed when the boss is out. And I’m the second-in-command, so there’s no one to check up on me. The massive gas heater suspended from the warehouse ceiling is blowing hot air against the front doors and nowhere else and I am wearing my coat with a hoodie underneath it. I’m not shivering but I can feel the chill. And, I don’t mind it. It’s Christmas break, the students are gone, and there is almost nothing for me to do but sit and think.
I’m at the little pressed wood work station in the middle of the warehouse, perched in an old swivel high chair in front of a laptop provided by the university, slowly emptying a bag of popcorn. White cheddar and caramel. Nature Box. An unexpectedly great flavor. I’ve been addicted to it for years and nothing is slowing the movement of my hand from the bag to my mouth except the fact that I can’t hold the bag and write.
I am not satisfied. Exactly. I have a job but no pay raise for the next couple of years. It’s not a job I want, but it pays the bills. I’ve been searching for a new job online for almost a year but having a job, and a bachelor’s degree, has raised my standards. I feel I’m being too picky in my job search. I just want to work from home in a job befitting my English degree and introverted disposition. I just want a writing life.
I thought the writer’s life would come to me, somehow. It would see my English degree or lifetime word count and wave its magic-ness over my life and change everything for me – open doors, and lead the people I should know to me, the ones who were seeking what I wanted or who already had it. A life in writing. A life in language. But a year has passed since my last class, a year since the day I officially earned my degree, and my life is no different, no better, no more beautiful, or poetic, or romantic, or brilliant. I haven’t moved one step more towards the life I should be living.
Back to the popcorn. This just tastes great. One cheddar flake and one caramel flake. An amazing taste. A popped kernel of corn is called a flake. The heater kicks on again and none of the heat is hitting me. The 23-degree Fahrenheit winter isn’t, either, so…
Shove the bag in the drawer and shut it. No more until tomorrow…hopefully.
How do I get it? What do I do? The novel in my head hasn’t exactly made it onto the page. What is on the page is unreadable, of course – it’s a first draft – and makes serious revision seem hopeless. So, there is no salvation there for the time being.
I’m tired of my knack for writing dull, aimless prose.
I have nothing else going on…yet.
I pinned so much hope on words/words that I have not written/I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m holding onto nothing.
So, how do you get the life? The writing life. The life in language, in words, in support of and supported by words. I got from the living room couch to the classroom. Now, how do I get from the classroom to the home office?
In the words of many a writer and teacher:
Start writing, keep writing, and don’t stop until have nothing else to say, or you die.