The holidays are coming and so is my writing day. Not day but night rather, for what am I but a person who cannot work before sitting for a long while. Sitting to think with the music on and the mindless thumbing and maybe even just the nothing, I am one who can sit, sit, sit in a chair and think until my mouth is dry, but I will not arise until I am done thinking.
I am profoundly introverted and spend my days teaching. I’m socially exhausted at the end of the day. Sometimes I feel like the inside of my head is screaming and jostling around hitting my skull like bunch of cackling Jacks-in-the-box. I need to sit and think and be alone, without working, without writing, for a while, to calm them down. I can only do that after my daughter goes to bed. And then I think.
I think while the little people in the computer build their lives, I think in my simmering back-head while the lives of all the lot of you scroll by.
I really should just write. The thinking is sometimes true and sometimes an excuse. The thinking is necessary but also inertia.
My “office” is the chair I nursed my daughter in. The rocking mechanism stopped up long ago. It’s fine, I don’t want to rock when I write, but I wish the arms were a little different, a little further apart, for I can’t get quite the right angle on the elbows when I’m typing.
I’ve a bookshelf or two and a TV tray and a lamp in the wrong place because the right place would be too far from the electrical outlet plus it’s the only place for my daughter to store her guitar. My things are stored in cardboard boxes and vertical piles on the floor. The TV tray is too small for piles. File cabinets, I have a few, but aren’t they just where paper goes to die? I never open them. Paper exists there. It couldn’t be that important.
The holidays are coming and so are my writing nights. I never get to catch up on sleep, no matter the vacation, because I need to squeeze time so tight. Because during vacation I have to work on work neither in the day nor in the evening and so I can get my thinking done and then there I am and it’s not even 10 o’clock and I’m ready to rock and roll! Hallelujah!
It’s not exactly the life. My shoulders hurt from the stupid angle of my elbows. The cardboard sleeve that belongs to a deluxe Moomin collection holds the papers I have yet to file. Papers on their deathbed.
I could have wine, but it’s a bad idea. It just makes me give up and fall asleep. I could have a snack, or water, at least, come on! But these things are also bad ideas. Once the roll has begun, stopping it for any reason is a bad idea.
This is only one kind of holiday: the winter kind.
Summers are a bit different, with less work-work, less social exhaustion, and my vacation even overlaps with the time my daughter is still in school. I get to have writing days, in fact; though, really, more than three or four hours of intense work, day or night, I find a stretch. I still need the other hours for reading, for thinking. I consider that part of my work.
In summers, my writing nights are in a camp chair in a falling-apart screen house, only lightly protected from the mosquitoes. From around 7 or 8 o’clock till 10 or 11 I sit in there, with a delicious non-alcoholic beverage, with the Wi-Fi on my laptop disabled, and write as fast as my little fingers can go. The dog likes to hang out with me in the back yard – until it gets dark, then she comes over and tries to herd me inside, and eventually gives up on me. I’d love to have a writing shed. Only it would need a bathroom. Because of the beverages. I don’t like to have to go inside.
These summer evenings in my backyard are my most productive time of my whole year, and the reason that I don’t like going on vacations. Vacations just eat into my writing time. It is very hard to explain this to my family, and mostly I give in.
I’d take a picture of the screen house, but it’s December now, and my nursing chair is in the position it’s in because it’s directly in front of a heat register. (In summer I move the indoor operation elsewhere because the air conditioning is too cold.) I’m sitting in it as I write this. I look forward to the next few weeks of relative calm and greater getting-the-thinking-out-of-the-way-early-so-I-can-do-more-writing-ness.
K.I. Press’s most recent collection of poetry is Exquisite Monsters (Turnstone). She lives in Winnipeg.