My alarm goes off somewhere between 4:30 and 5 am. If I wake up close to 4:30 to go to the bathroom I’ll just get up, especially if I’m working on something good and it’s the weekend. I turn off the alarm on my phone, turn on it’s flashlight and go to the bathroom. I always look at myself in the mirror. Have I changed overnight? Am I really a writer? An artist? Is being up this early worth it?
We’ve recently moved from Florida to Ohio. I don’t have a desk or designated writing space yet. I go to the kitchen and turn on the Keurig to get my morning cup of coffee going. Add a splash of almond milk.
I sit down on the couch, open up my computer, hope the girls don’t get up too soon, and check my socials and emails (there’s almost never anything there that’s actually important). Sip of coffee. Crack my fingers.
I hear a sound, is it a kid? No, just the house.
Depending on what I’m doing I open up my software. For writing I use Pages of Google Docs, and when I’m not home I write in the notes app on my iPhone. For art stuff I use a program called Affinity Designer. Sometimes for bigger projects I’ll bust out Adobe CC, but for most of my art stuff, Affinity Designer is totally capable (and super cheap). Couple more sips of coffee.
I just released my first chapbook on Halloween (2020). It’s titled, It’s a Knife. It’s available on Amazon and it’s major theme is relationships. Right now I am working on my next collection, a full length, which I’ll probably also release through Amazon. I’m also working on some one-off flash fictions and creative non-fiction pieces for submissions to lit mags and stuff. Some of that stuff ends up on my blogs (Super House and DopePony). My manuscript for my next book is about 45 pages long so far, I’m hoping to get it around 100, as long as I don’t run out of steam on the project and lose interest (I’ve had about 5 or 6 manuscripts get pretty beefy and fizzle out, to never be read, or are torn apart and remain into other poems for other purposes).
This new book is poems and prose. I look through the whole thing, sort of speed-reading each piece to see if it still fits. If I hit a snag I am likely to spiral for a minute and wonder if the whole book needs scrapping. I doubt my value as an artist. I doubt my value and contribute to my family and society as a whole. I think about the universe crushing me forever.
After these feelings fade a little, I can get back to work. I like to write right into my manuscripts, each piece finds its home in the project relatively quickly that way and I like it. I print-preview to see if the pages look ok next to each other. I do another speed-read through to see if any poems are too similar in style and theme so I can add something in between them or move one around.
If I don’t have an idea and I really want to write, I’ll go to my notes app. I have a folder there called “lines”. It’s where I keep all my ideas for titles, story ideas, and poetry lines when I’m not at home. I scroll through them for something that gets me excited to give it some teeth, maybe some mangy hair as well. Sip of coffee.
One of the girls wakes up around 6, it’s the 6 year old. She’s down here on the couch with me now, watching a movie. I used to not be able to concentrate when she would get up, but now I’m good. Sip of coffee. She asks for cereal. I sigh, and this is the only part that still breaks my concentration. The dog barks. We should get rid of the dog so I can write more.
I get the dog, it’s cold. I come back, step on a taco from the girl’s dinner last night. Clean up the crushed taco. I need a space to write.
Today I’m writing this. As the interruptions pile up I consider giving up and slamming the computer shut. I should just bury myself in my day job (I finish flooring). Quit writing, nobody reads it anyways.
I recheck all my socials and email, because you never know what has happened between 4:30 and 6:30 am. I look at the last poem I put in my manuscript. Does it fit, or am I just putting things in here to get the page count I want? sip of coffee.
I like it enough to leave it for now. Does the title make sense? Are my themes and subject matter too wide? Does my imagery make sense? I might decide to work on the cover design. I’ve got 5 or 6 different designs going on for it.
I might go back to writing, but if everyone wakes up too early I’ll wait until after all the chaos of waking up is over. Sometimes I’ll go check out whatever stuff is on a small press. Yesterday it was a lit-mag called Cheap Pop (Twitter @cheap_pop). They have some great pieces that I read yesterday in the 2020 line-up. You should check it out (and no, they didn’t ask me to write this, and I don’t have any pieces there).
This is often how I write. If I have to go to work, this is still typical and I write until I have to rush out the door. The other way I write is on my phone at work during my lunch break. I use the notes app to work on the ideas in the Lines folder. Sometimes I can bust out a whole piece in there and just copy and paste it into my manuscript when I get home. sip of coffee.
Am I really a writer? And so it continues.
Logan Roberts is an artist and writer living in Ohio. He tweets @hello_im_logan. His chapbook, It’s a Knife, is on Amazon.