I write in the interim spaces between things: on the bus ride to school/work, during work, between class. Sometimes someone will say something and I’ll pull out my phone and type up a note, only to forget about it for months (some gems from this inventory include “ethical vegan poems” and “rewrite Beowulf where Beowulf is a werewolf.”
Ever since I started working a 9-5 in a cubicle, I’ve found more interim spaces to write during. I’ve filled up three notebooks these past three months, with there being a fair amount of salvageable content in there. Writing in a notebook is much more subtle than typing away, and I’ve rediscovered writing by hand. And then I type up my work, tearing it apart as I do.
Sometimes it’s hard to find inspiration staring at grey walls (even though I’ve covered them with paintings). So I read poetry while I’m in here. I’ve read Ben Ladouceur’s “Otter” and Rob Thomas’s “Brood,” along with countless poems online on ottawater, the Puritan, etc. etc. On a side note, I also revamped the In/Words website sitting in this cubicle.
Also on the topic of In/Words – submission periods are honestly one of my favourite times ever. I love opening the inbox and seeing a new submission in. I’ll read submissions and be pushed to write and I’ll have a poem of my own to submit somewhere. It’s a great cycle.
Occasionally on weekends I’ll pull myself towards Black Squirrel or Starbucks (my roommate works there – I get a discount) and let coffee-shop vibes pull words out. I fill pages with rambling before ripping them apart to make a poem. I take away more words than I add. I take poems to writer’s circles and have people tell me what stands out to them. I submit poems to magazines and continue to rework them.
Oh, and I do always sit cross-legged, or with my legs tucked under my body in some way. I hate sitting upright on chairs, so I don’t. Even in a ‘professional’ office cube.
Even when I have zero inspiration and all that comes out is angsty, cliché-ridden post-teenage thoughts, I write those down. Because beneath the angsty, cliché-ridden post-teenage rambling is something I can use in writing. And sometimes there’s nothing, but writing bad stuff that no one reads is better than not writing anything at all.
When the workday finally ends, I make my cup of tea and sip it as I sift through penned down rambles and shape them into something decent.
And the next day starts and I do it all again.
Manahil Bandukwala lives, thrives, and creates in Ottawa. An undergrad student in Carleton University’s English program, she is an editor of In/Words Magazine & Press, run out of Carleton. Her writing has appeared in Bywords, In/Words, the Ottawa Arts Review, re:asian, ottawater and where is the river, among other places. She has work forthcoming in Room Magazine. You can find her artwork on Instagram @manahil_art, and read her inner thoughts on Twitter @manaaaahil.