Over the years, my writing day has atrophied and burgeoned and contorted to make way for my life. At one time, a writing day meant taking my children to a babysitter and coming back home to my desk and sitting down without any distractions but the changing song on my Pandora station. I made myself a little ritual with a blended coffee and the quiet of my usually loud place allowed me to write. That was when I was pursuing my MFA and people saw how seriously I took writing.
There is this perception sometimes that writing isn’t a serious profession and maybe that’s because it’s largely unpaid. But it as serious a profession as one makes it, even without a paycheck. We can throw ourselves into the craft of writing as much as a person throws themselves into staying late at an office, overbooking an Outlook calendar, and catching up on emails. One is not greater than the other because of its fiscal returns. One is more reasonable, maybe, but those of us who are writers are not known for our reason.
It is hard to describe a typical writing day because many days I don’t write at all. There are days for housework or submitting my existing work or the jobs I toil away at so I can continue to write. There are days when I go for a run and shower and contemplate what I will write next but never open a Word document. I count all that as part of the process, too. By the time I sit down to write, I have spent hours mulling through what I have to say, spinning words in my head, erasing them, writing them again without ever seeing them on a page.
As much as I admire the people who wake up early or stay up late each day to write on a schedule, I am not one of them. My discipline is not in the time I set aside to write but the regenerating motivation to. The actual time I spend ass-in-chair is parceled out into large or small chunks as life allows.
I have learned now to write amidst distractions—which I never thought I’d be able to do before—out of sheer necessity. I know now it is my necessity to write—it is my brain’s yoga—so if the only way to write is in the chaos of two screaming, wrestling boys, that’s what I’ll do. Right now I am typing on a laptop in the back of a coffee shop. I get my writing time in where I can fit it. I have written a poem on a pumpkin patch field trip, made a story outline in the grocery store aisle, and crafted an essay on the bench next to the inflatables my children were jumping on.
I have a desk, but my writing day could be anywhere. The words get put typed into documents at my desk, largely, but they are put into my head and then notebooks wherever I am. Today I didn’t think I’d finish writing this, but after each iced vanilla latte, I returned to this computer to finish what I started. I think that is my regenerating motivation: to make something whole any way I can.
Holly Pelesky is a lover of spreadsheets, giant sandwiches, and handwritten letters. Her essays have appeared in The Nasiona, Jellyfish Review, and Homology Lit, among other places. Her poems are bound in Quiver: A Sexploration. She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska. She cobbles together gigs to pay off loans and eke by, refusing to give up this writing life. She lives in Omaha with her two sons.