Friday, November 16, 2018

Shazia Hafiz Ramji : Failing Success: A Writing Day

6 a.m.
Wake up. Make cream earl grey tea in a pot that can fill three cups. Eat waffles with melted chocolate and one scoop of honeycomb ice cream. Open up six files:

            -Novel journal (reflective and reflexive thoughts and questions about the novel while in the process of writing)
            -Novel freewrites (rough scenes, character interviews, monologues, back stories)
            -Novel (the thing itself) 
            -Poetry journal
            -Poetry freewrites
            -Poetry (the things in themselves)

Look for what I avoided in my novel; can be found in poetry files.

Enter crying state.

7 a.m.
Begin freewriting process with questions that arose and were avoided in previous day’s work. Feel proud that I haven’t checked my phone.

Enter relieved state. 

8 a.m. 
Calm state. Second helping of waffles. Freewriting. 

9 a.m.
Calm state. Third cup of tea. Writing prompts; character situations; more scenes. 

10 a.m.
Elated state. Call mom. Happy state. Try to avoid phone and social media. 

11 a.m.
Adventurous state. Walking the city, collecting impressions and overheard conversations. Trying to avoid phone and social media, but failing. 

2 p.m.
Taken the train to the end of the line. At the airport, watching planes. Allowing myself to have big dreams. Head back into the city and towards home, get groceries. 

4 p.m.
Listening to other writers talk about their work while cooking dinner, while on social media. 

5 p.m.
Eating dinner for longer than it should take. 

6 p.m.
Showering for far longer than it should take. 

7 p.m.
Burning incense. Drinking rooibos. Drinking yerba mate. Peeing a lot. 

8 p.m.
Anxious state. All six files open. Oneohtrix Point Never on almost-full volume to subdue feelings. Looking at all my craft books and feeling like a hack, like Nicolas Cage’s character in Adaptation. Review and overview morning’s work. Try to fit scenes into larger picture. Try to turn poems into scenes. 

9 p.m.
Crying in bed. Hugging pillows. Feeling extremely ashamed because timelines in novel and outlines reveal what you have been avoiding, but you don’t want to see it. 

10 p.m.
Email mentor with unrelated and/or pending task. Hope that you can meet. 

10:30 p.m.
Call psychiatrist. Ask for a call back to book an appointment. 

11 p.m.
Feeling a bit happier and reading two unrelated books: one poetry book, one novel. 

Listen to neighbour breathing and sleeping deeply. (Our windows are extremely close.) 

1 a.m.
Thinking about death and loneliness. Finally decide to confront the thing I’ve avoided in the novel the next day; through a poem first. Make a one-sentence note in a little book on bedside. 

2 a.m.
Trying to remember I am not a bad person. 

3 a.m.
Having thoughts like: How would I even be alive if I didn’t write? Why isn’t writing rewarded in Canada? Should I move to France where I wouldn’t have to pay taxes because I’m an artist? Should I get married to have a stable house situation? Should I get married so I don’t have to do my banking? When will I ever get through the Canada Council portal? 

3:50 a.m.
Realizing that the current state is bad for my writing the next day. 

4 a.m.
Guided meditation. 

4:10 a.m.
Asleep halfway thru meditation. 

10 a.m.
Guilt because I couldn’t make the 6 a.m. wake-up time for a Successful Writing Day. 


In spite of and because of the various failures, I’ve had a successful writing day.

Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s first book, Port of Being, received the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry (Invisible Publishing, 2018). She was a finalist for the National Magazine Awards and the Alberta Magazine Awards, and her poetry and fiction have appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2018 and The Humber Literary Review, respectively. Her criticism has appeared in venues such as Canadian Literature, Quill & Quire, and the Chicago Review of Books. Shazia has appeared on CBC North by Northwest and will be a writer in residence with Open Book in spring 2019. She lives on unceded Coast Salish land (Vancouver).

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