I’d like to tell you my writing day is dictated by inspiration, by discipline, by the rising and setting of the sun outside my office window. But really, it’s dictated by my Chiweenie’s pee schedule. And my office is actually my small bedroom because there are four students living in this three-bedroom over-priced Vancouver apartment.
Oh, and my window faces true South. No sun for this writer.
Ellie wakes me at 8am without fail. It’s Sunday. She drags me by the leash down the back stairwell, outside, around the building to each of her chosen pee spots: the patch of grass outside the townhouse of the Chow who wears a muzzle, the small garden that daffodils have begun to bloom in, and, this morning, directly onto a live earthworm. I make a note in my phone to write a poem about the unceremoniousness of this early-morning golden-shower, from the worm’s perspective.
In the morning, I have a difficult time sitting at the desk. The desk is intimidating before I’ve had coffee. I spend my first three hours working on my laptop from the green recliner I inherited from my Grandfather when he passed away six years ago. It’s an incredible chair. I’ve slept in it more times than the number of tampons I keep in the bottoms of book bags. (Which is a lot. Trust.) I’ve moved this chair with me five times. Each move, my parents offer to store it for when I have more permanent living quarters. But I’m not sure that’ll happen any time soon. And, in the mean time, I need somewhere to write until my body is ready for the desk.
I don’t actually write in the morning. Morning is a time to take care of student business, answer work emails, call the loan office because I forgot the answer to my own security question and now I’m locked out of my account. It’s not glamorous stuff, but the chair gets it. The chair doesn’t judge, not now, not ever. Sometimes, the headrest still smells like Grandpa’s hair, and I make a note in my phone to write a poem that describes this exact scent.
Did I mention there’s a shit ton of checking Instagram throughout my writing day? There’s a shit ton of checking Instagram throughout my writing day. It’s constant.
At noon I’m hungry, and also wanting to procrastinate the real writing, so I make a glorious vegan lentil stew. I’m not a vegan, nor have I ever been. The stew is just that good. Sometime in between leaving the stew to simmer and settling on the couch with a hearty bowl, I take Ellie out for another pee, paint my fingernails metallic blue, and watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers. Most people’s favourite character is Tina, and while I see Tina’s appeal, I’m a Linda gal, all the way. Linda is unabashed, savvy, flawed. Linda is the every-woman’s-woman. I want to be the poet version of Linda when I grow up.
It’s 2pm by the time I sit at the desk, full and sleepy. Another cup of coffee. On the desk is a rock salt lamp I scored in some version of Secret Santa, a small statuette version of Ellie I bought at Hobby Lobby for $1.75, a cactus handed down from a friend because she got a new cactus that was prettier than this cactus, a deck of tarot cards I use when I’m feeling particularly blue or blocked or curious, my current lit mag submission chart (nine rejections, one hope-inducing acceptance), overpriced gold pencils from a hipster stationary store that I’ll never use, a chakra incense boat sans incense, a chunk of fossilized coral from a trip to Seattle three weeks ago, a jade stone I bought off a street man for three dollars in Seattle three weeks ago, an industrial grade printer, a salmon coloured Post-It stuck to said printer that reads “Being overwhelmed is your privilege” in blue highlighter, and a salmon-coloured Post-It pad.
Written in a stream like this, I sound truly quirky. Maybe even sanctimonious. But rest assured, I would rather watch Adam Sandler’s “Billy Madison” than read any novel. I’m ashamed of this, but I don’t want to lie to you.
Today, I’m revising my first poetry chapbook manuscript. In a panic, I realize I’ve lost my editor’s notes. I tear the place apart, quite literally, and come to the conclusion that one of my roommates has thrown them out because I’m bad for leaving my papers lying around in communal spaces and who could blame them, really. In a last ditch effort, I check the place Moms always tell you to look first: under the bed. They’re there, lying between a (clean) pair of underwear and an empty bag of Ms. Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar Chips. I relax back into the desk.
I tend to zone out a bit when revising. I don’t know if I’m so focused that I don’t even have to consciously think about what I’m doing, or if I’m distracted by Ellie pushing her plush snowman between my feet to play fetch, or if revising is just such a painful experience that my mind dissociates from my body and goes to rest in some tropical place I might actually get to visit if I’m awarded a SSHRC grant. Likely the latter.
At the end of two hours, I’ve drifted my way through all twenty-four pages of the manuscript. This may sound like small potatoes to you, but I’m majorly stoked. This is my first big publishing gig. I make a note in my phone to dedicate a poem to Ms. Peet, the high school English teacher who sarcastically scoffed “Good luck” when I told her I wanted to be a writer.
A phone call from my mother. We talk about Ellie and American politics and my lacking sex life. She tells me I’m going to end up re-virginized if I don’t get laid soon. I make a note in my phone to write a poem titled “Are you there Molly? It’s Me, Hymen.”
Some more lentil stew. It really is delicious.
I’d like to tell you the rest of my writing day is spent reading critical theory in a hammock, looking for poetry in the shapes of potholes, or drinking fancy soju downtown with many beautiful and important people. But really, I bring Ellie out for another pee, change from one pair of sweatpants to a cleaner pair of sweatpants, and watch some trash TV: American Idol, Guy’s Grocery Games, re-runs of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I make a note in my phone to write a poem about Kim’s latest nude selfie, from Khloe’s perspective. I check Instagram. Ellie has to pee.
Molly Cross-Blanchard is a Métis writer from the prairies currently living, working, and attending school (UBC Creative Writing MFA) as a guest on unceded Musqueam territory. Her poems have appeared in CV2, The Malahat Review, and In/Words. This Spring, Molly will take over the Executive Editor Circulation position at PRISM international, and will publish her debut chapbook with Rahila’s Ghost Press. Follow Molly on Twitter and Instagram. DM her for the stew recipe, or more photos of Ellie.