I wake in a fugue state - an overwhelming sense of obligation to both my work and writing hobby thrumming a resounding chorus of anxious thoughts, swirling. My brain needs two massive mugs of coffee before any thoughts will reach clarity. My mug is cornflower blue. When tipped back it covers my whole face.
I do not have a typical writing day. I write when there is quiet, calm, excess time, and space. Perhaps also when there is some trauma to process or some inspiration offered by the universe.
I start out by getting my children settled into their new school routine, logging on and being prepped with finished work. Having a pencil for the new work that must be done, or a laptop to log in to a classroom.
I have a calendar that is meant to mark all of the days I write in a row. There are no rows. Seems no amount of discipline offers me any meaningful or decent work. Discipline is even more meaningless in a pandemic during which my whole family must be at home asking for small kindnesses.
Its difficult to find balance, but somehow when inspiration comes, I am always ready.
Often, it starts with editing poems I thus far have hated. When I was still going to work each day on public transit, I had plenty of time to write mediocre pieces that required a lot of love to grow into something beautiful. It takes a lot to give them any value, but it’s something to get my creativity flowing in the right direction.
I edit mercilessly once I have some detachment from my pieces. If they are fresh they are always beautiful and perfect. The truth is less appealing – they need work, they all need work. And when I let myself, I would edit each piece into utter obscurity.
Usually though, my pieces come from dark spaces in my psyche. It is a difficult place to go, and perhaps that’s why I don’t spend much time there or feel challenged in heading into that space every single day. I have so many poems about dead people. I have some many that are just a means to process the pain, there is no beauty in them, only hurt. Or if there is beauty, it is in the suffering.
At some point this is interrupted by a necessary online meeting for work – I love my work. It is not a disruption, more like an echo of the type of things I write about.
Surely by now it must be lunch – forcing me to acknowledge the world outside my corner office and the necessity of bodily sustenance.
After lunch there is never time to write. This is when the real nature of my work is most apparent; when the kids I work with start asking when I can help them with the myriad of concerns they must have, and when I need to be prepared to physically attend to things. Mask on, I hop in the van, ravaged by the drives in and out of town day in and day out. The tires are always somehow going flat. I will never know why. My day will “end” in a few hours, but the calls and texts and emails don’t have a time they turn off. And honestly, that’s ok.
These days still bring inspiration, perhaps even panic, sadness and hope. Everything is in balance, as one would expect. The stories of the day stay secret, but their impact is pure and unbridled.
The evening is for family, and when I am feeling particularly in tune with my focus I can maybe throw some stanzas around. Perhaps instead I spend it reading poetry for review. Rarely, I’ll be smacked between the eyes with some choice lines while showering or relaxing before my head hits the pillow.
There really is no right or wrong way to find the time to write. I hope I continue to do so, regardless of how my days play out as a result.
Justene Dion-Glowa is a bi, Métis poet from BC, Canada. She works with Indigenous youth. She writes poetry and creative non-fiction in her spare time. She is Editor-in Chief of 3 Moon Magazine. She also reviews poetry for The Poetry Question. Her work can be found in Petrichor, Burning House Press, Ice Floe, Ayaskala, and other journals, with more due out in the Body issue of Mineral Lit Mag. Her microchap, TEETH, is coming out July 28, 2020 from Ghost City Press. Her chapbook, Trailer Park Shakes, is due out in the winter of 2020 from Rattle, having won their 2020 chapbook contest. She tweets at @gee_justy.