I don’t think this is how Hemingway started

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

It’s Saturday, so I am not working at my full-time job. My laptop is open on the only corner of my kitchen table that isn’t covered with junk from the week. My husband and son are cutting a hole in my kitchen floor — seriously. With a Sawz All, which is making my aging dachshund lose all composure and bark as if she is being eviscerated. Meanwhile, my four-year-old grandson is running his dump truck full of action figures across the kitchen floor to crash against the wall to epic destruction. Repeatedly.

I had thought I would spend some time collecting my thoughts and planning out my week today. I need to figure out how to perform at my best at my regular job, and still make time to churn out at least a couple of small freelance pieces a day. I’ve got modest goals, but I want to make progress. And I want to have a regular writing schedule for Medium, because it is the writing here (and reading!) that massages my creativity and keeps me from feeling confined.

I notice that I have re-read the same sentence three times and sigh. I close my laptop and grab the boy before he pushes his truck through the dog door, talking over the roar of a Shop Vac to say, “Let’s go play with this in the other room.” The dachshund is now hiding behind the couch. I want a cup of coffee but don’t want to climb over the obstacles in the kitchen to get it.

Photo by Matthew LeJune on UnsplashLet’s face it — I don’t know anyone who writes in a cocoon.

Even Hemingway had to put up with the rowdies at Sloppy Joe’s, although I’m not sure how much he wrote while he was tossing them back. The prolific Shaunta Grimes has chaos around her every day and steals snippets of free time in bites. The Clumsy Gypsy writes from who knows where, who knows when, as a digital no-really-I’m-not-kidding nomad.

Unlike other artistic media, we don’t have to lug around sketch pads, easels, potters wheels or even cans of spray paint. We can create whenever and wherever the muse strikes. I wake up more nights than not and jot down an idea in the “notes” app on my phone beside my bed. I edit something I had been working on in the Medium app riding in the car as my husband drives.

It would be wonderful to have a dedicated room painted in calming colors with the damn doors locked and soundproofed but, honestly, if I had a room like that at my disposal, I probably wouldn’t need to write! I don’t have a life like that, let alone a room. My life is loud and messy and over committed most of the time, and I have a crappy sense of boundaries.

Photo by Robert Bye on UnsplashIt is the mess that gives life to the words we write.

It’s the chaos and the noise and the dust that fleshes out the words so that they reach out and touch the reader and make a human connection. When I read Jane Trombley and This is what 70 looks like, I feel what she describes in my nerve endings and my joints. Reading Nicole Peeler and the story of her short stint as a bartender, I know the smell of that bar, the glasses pushed up to the bar well for refills.

I used to strive for the elusive unicorn known as Work-Life Balance — you know, that crap they talk about in women-centered media? Yeah. I’ve never seen it in real life, and neither have you. (Also, isn’t it interesting that men don’t get advice about achieving work-life balance? Hmmmmmm?)

So, I’m gonna go play checkers with a four-year-old, and maybe later I will have been inspired to write about how to lose gracefully at something at which I expected to win. Or maybe I’ll write about how the laughter of a child is like fresh Mimosas on an impossibly perfect summer morning.

As long as my husband fixes the bloody hole in the floor!

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I’ve written before about dipping my toes into the freelancing waters here:

All dressed up — and scared to pull the content writing trigger

Helping each other write better. Join Us.

I don’t think this is how Hemingway started was originally published in The Writing Cooperative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Read more: writingcooperative.com

  • March 4, 2019
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