some days I don’t know whether I’m a writer or not. my wife wakes up at ungodly hours for work and leaves me a list of reminders on the kitchen counter for when I wake up years later – close the windows, give the dog his medication, give yourself your medication, make the bed. some mornings waking up takes seconds. others, I waste time in the shower until our defective smoke alarm gets triggered by the steam.
some days I am productive. I take the dog for a walk and notice the picturesque weeds in the alley, jotting down half-baked poems in my Notes app. I pack my lunch for work and fire off some emails on my phone before even leaving the house. I don’t get frustrated by the morning commute because I pick the right playlist and am too busy jamming out to Angelique Kidjo to develop road rage.
on productive days, I bring my laptop to work and fool around with poems on my lunch break. sometimes I’ll head to the Belgian patisserie across the street and attempt to listen to a podcast while also sorting through adjectives. I’ve wanted to be a podcast listener for years, but I lose focus when my hands start to fidget. I come home early and spend time with my wife. I pick a few lines of a poem to post to Instagram. I go to bed early.
some days (most days?) I’m not productive. the smoke alarm gets triggered by the steam and my anxious dog needs consolation over the noise. he stages a sit-in protest in the backyard when I try to leave for work. my mostly-recovered eating disorder translates into kitchen anxiety and I decide to buy something for lunch, rushing out the door too late. I spend my lunch break scrolling through social media feeds of more successful friends, comparing my weird free-form poetry unfavourably to their polished, university-educated publications. I have two pieces of very expensive paper on my office wall but the fact that they’re not in creative writing sometimes stresses me out.
some days I remember that I’m a writer. I spend a Saturday afternoon weeding my wife’s beautiful garden, occasionally adding to the thoughts in my Notes app. I submit a poem or two from my potentially-complete poems folder and cross my fingers that someone finds them interesting. I tweak the coding on my website, put a new playlist together, and work on a post for the music blog that I started on a whim. I read from friends’ chapbooks and rave to my wife about new small press releases.
those are my favourite days.
katie o’brien is a poet, community worker, queer activist, and Netflix enthusiast originally from St. John’s, Ktaqamkuk, on unceded Beothuk land. a peal of thunder, a moment of (The Blasted Tree, 2019) is their third chapbook. katie dislikes lying, sings a lot, and doesn’t kill bugs.