Work – Alarm beeps at 6:10 a.m. CDT
· Check email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, weather, get ready before the kids get up, shove kids’ lunch kits in backpacks, re-promise myself to only use snooze once, dress 3-year-old son while husband dresses 6-year-old daughter, kiss them all goodbye while they sit for breakfast, grab stuff, zip up boots, and walk briskly to the bus stop.
-15 with the windchill this Winnipeg morning. Icy breath. The deep blue horizon lightens to the shade of a mandarin orange. Stars usher in daybreak. Fallen leaves dusted with frost shimmer like golden coins as car head lights pass over them.
· On the bus, squeeze myself in the middle seat opposite the back door, elbows in. Listen to the latest Can’t Lit episode with author Kim Fu. Check work emails. Write personal emails and texts. Search Amazon for mermaid-theme party favours for daughter’s Birthday party.
· Sit at my workstation and type. Stand at my workstation and type. One videoconference. Three teleconferences. Eat leftovers for lunch at my desk.
· A few writing thoughts nudge at me, capture them on my phone, re-focus on work.
· On my break, slide over to the Millennium Public Library, check out a few books about Buddhism for research.
· Catch the bus home.
Continue reading Amber Dawn’s How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir, as recommended by Chelene Knight. Held captive by the author’s honesty and openness, woven-together words and ideas. Will have to re-read to pay closer attention to structure. Make a few notes on my phone.
Close my eyes and go inward. A rest from the workday, mentally and emotionally closing out for the day, no mental space to spare. A pause.
Family – 4:26 p.m. CDT
· Pick up car at home,
· Pick up son at preschool,
· Pick up daughter at school,
· Go home, reheat leftovers for dinner,
· Give daughter time-out, husband comes home. Eat dinner while standing up at the kitchen counter.
· Take daughter to taekwondo. Check work emails. Wave to daughter. Jot down a few notes on my phone for this piece to email to myself. Wave to her. Look through one of the Buddhism books from the library.
· At home, ensure daughter writes card and finishes home reading. Give snack to son. Help husband get kids ready for bed, say good night. Breathe deep their scent so familiar to me, remind myself to enjoy the moment.
· Finish tidying up toys and do the most necessary chores around the house then force myself to stop. Could clean and tidy all night. Check in with husband he is good to do his own thing tonight.
Writing – 8:38 p.m. CDT
Sometimes I make it through the day just to get here, to these few moments on these few evenings. Breathe in, breathe out.
When I was younger, I felt I had all the time in the world, with no husband and kids, my time was my own, I wrote when the muse struck me. Now, my time isn’t just my own, I understand the value of time. I protect this writing time now. Writing is work. I must put in the time.
My eyes are heavy, and my brain is foggy. What I wouldn’t give to curl up on the couch and watch Star Trek: TNG on Netflix. After a long day at work and at home.
I roll up to the desk and start to feel my shoulders loosen and my mind clear.
Peppermint tea in my favourite mug. Purple laptop. My favourite “Beautiful Light Music” on YouTube through wireless speakers. New York Cheddar Kettle style chips.
I copy and paste the notes I emailed to myself while sitting in my daughter’s taekwondo class. I add details of today to the initial outline I’ve sketched. Close the file. I’ll let it marinate a few days and finish and submit on the weekend.
Check Submittable, and by sheer force of will, turn the blue “in-progress” to green. Not yet.
Open the file for chapter 8 of my work-in-progress, a book of creative non-fiction pieces. I have the initial scaffolding and brainstorming done, a flurry of words and concepts, fragments and intent written down. Tonight, I decide to focus on one section, of my visit to the Buddhist temple in Winnipeg for the first time in a decade. Write over my intentions and add layers and details. Open the file for chapter 9, add some scaffolding. Open the file for chapter 3 to revisit a section, does it work with chapter 8 as it exists now? As I type and ponder and delete and type again, I continue to imagine this as my paid work, manifesting it into the universe.
I am a writer who enjoys ritual. I have trained myself to write anywhere, mostly on the bus or at kids’ activities. Yet this desk, this space, tea and music, is best. This space is for me to do things for myself, as a writer, not as mother, wife, or worker. In this space, in my home, with my family, I have brought together talismans from around the world, a remembrance, favourite books about religion and mythology I have carried from house to house. Travel guides. New additions of memoirs and fiction, poetry. Books signed by authors. Family pictures, wedding, our babies. Holds memories and sparks the imagination.
I think of writing as active meditation. There is something about creating something from nothing. Focus and intention. Translating bursts of thoughts and strings of the theoretical through your fingers into letters and words to the screen. A blank screen, a white page, then filled with black letters, the cursor moving word by word and line by line. A running count of words.
It’s a powerful endeavour. It brings me very close to spirit, to the universe, and to my true self.
My fingers are chilled, and my feet are ice cubes. My back is sore, and I need to stretch out my arms. I save and shut down, my contact lens probably glued to my eyeballs.
I’m so tired. And I’m so energized.
A tingling in my fingers.
A deep hum in my body.
A sense of rightness. Doing what I am meant to do.
This is my life’s journey, finally acknowledged and finally working towards it.
Lights out 11:18 p.m. CDT. I will be so grateful if no kiddies wake me in the middle of the night. I will be so grateful to be able to do this all again.
Linda Trinh writes non-fiction and fiction. She is a Canadian cisgender woman of Vietnamese descent. She lives along the edges of majority Canadian culture and minority Vietnamese culture in Winnipeg. She has published a creative non-fiction piece, Incense and Ancestors, in Prairie Fire’s 40th anniversary summer 2018 Volume 39, no. 2 issue. She has published a guest post, To Take a Risk and Call Myself a Writer, on author Chelene Knight’s Life in CanLit blog in August 2018. She has published Sacred Hands in the Same online literary journal. This piece has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has been included in the Same’s first print anthology. Find her on Twitter at @LindaYTrinh and her blog lindatrinhblog.wordpress.com.