I thought about rescheduling this. In truth, it’s the most realistic writing day that I could write to you about. One full of high ambition, and the bittersweet reality of being an extroverted Libra who tells everyone they’re free on their day off.
Today was supposed to be the day I spent writing.
I wake up at 8a.m., and text my girlfriend good morning. They call me a few minutes later. It’s one of my favorite things we do— they call me almost every morning and I do my little stretches and make my bed while we talk. We’re long distance, so our morning conversations are sacred to me.
They were visiting last week, and they left one of their film rolls with me so that I could take them and get them developed. At 9:30 a.m. I drive to Samy’s Camera in Fairfax to get them developed. While I hate driving, on my drive, I thought exclusively about the piece of short fiction I am working on today. It’s about a Centaur that was ejected from the ship he was on, and landed on a planet that is out to kill him. The car is a nice place to think. My hands are busy and my mind wanders off.
At 11a.m. I meet with someone who is interested in being the cinematographer for the webseries I wrote with my best friend, Nick. As a screenwriter, poet, and a writer of fiction, I find myself divided on these writing days. But self production is one of the ways potential TV writers get seen, and so when Nick started pushing to get the web series made, I was all in. I didn’t want to have a meeting today, but it was the only day that worked for the cinematographer, and so it had to be today.
At noon, my meeting is over, I have booked the cinematographer, and I write an email to the director, and Nick, to introduce them all to our new crew member. Then I get to work.
When it comes to writing, I usually go where I’m compelled. It’s rare when I don’t finish a project, so this hasn’t created any roadblocks for me, really. So if a short story is where my mind is at today, that’s exactly where I’m going.
At 1p.m. my friend Paige meets me at the same cafe I had the first meeting at. When she reached out to me last week she asked what day I was free this week and I said today, not thinking about how I was free because I had reserved the whole day for writing. But I haven’t seen Paige in weeks, and I miss her, so she meets me at the Republic of Pie, where the baristas have probably noticed I’ve been here now for three hours and had two teas and a latte. Paige and I catch up on our lives and she takes some pictures of me on her film camera. She consistently reminds me how much she admires me, and it’s really sweet. After we part, it’s about 2 p.m. and I drive home.
I jump immediately to my desk and open my short story. I can’t sit still for long, so I write for two hours and then go for a walk. I walk every time I get stuck, and being in LA, the weather is always nice for walking. In Chicago winter, I used to have to just pace around my 400sqft studio apartment. Today it is 90 degrees and so I sweat and have to drink lots of water. I wrote in a poem once: my headphones always make me half-here and not listening and it’s true, but they also enable me to enter the dreamspace in my head. I hardly even look where I’m walking, other than to make sure there isn’t an oncoming car. I put on music that suits whatever I’m writing (right now it’s Bad Bunny and Radiohead) and I walk until it’s time to get back to the page.
My girlfriend is driving to Detroit today for a wedding, and so I told them I wanted to call them to read to them while they drive for a bit. Reading poems and short stories is one of the ways I show love. It’s fun for me. I call them and read them “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, some poems from Aimee Nezhukhamatathil’s Oceanic, Billy Collin’s “Introduction to Poetry”, and Shira Erlichman’s “Mind over Matter” from Odes to Lithium. I read for about forty minutes, and then listen to them while I get back to writing. We hang up so they can stop somewhere for food, and I realize I haven’t really eaten today. I go upstairs for leftovers. I still have the vegan mac I made last week in the fridge, bless up. I’m bad at eating on writing days sometimes. When I wrote my short story collection ring ring, I could hardly pull myself away from my laptop. Every story came out in a fury. Nick had to be like “Hey dude let’s go eat and watch something! You’ve been writing all day!” and I am grateful to him for this, because otherwise, I may not have even noticed I was hungry or thirsty. I’m working on it. I make sure I eat before I sit at my desk now and do my best to notice a grumbling stomach.
Some of my favorite writers say if you’re not living you’re not writing, either. I think this is true, and the balance is hard to find. I will likely spend my life in search of it. I think it is equally as important to go to karaoke on Thursday night with Faria, as it is to write a page today. On the other hand, writing can be a muscle, and with two of my part-time jobs involving writing scripts, I can say there hasn’t been a time I’ve sat down and not been able to write anything in over a year. It’s turned into a very strong muscle. I bet my writing brain could do the pullups I’ve been trying to do physically.
On that note, I took today off exercise-wise as well, but for my practice in writing, it really helps. It gives me more energy for the days I stare at a screen and type all day.
On Tuesdays I work for an app called SnicSnac. It’s an augmented reality filmmaking app, and they pay me to write scripts for them, and sometimes do a little copywriting or social media caption writing. I didn’t get to finish the first draft of the script I have due tomorrow, so at around 6p.m. today I switch to finishing that script.
At 7:15, I’ve finished draft one (I’ll look one more time before I turn it in tomorrow, of course) and I go for a golden hour walk. As I walk I think of one of my best friends, Kristin, who I shared a call with a few days ago. I named a character after her in the other short story I’m working on. I probably won’t have children to name after anyone, but I do love to do this with characters, and I’d like to think it’s a similar sentiment, in a way. I don’t care what people think of my work, aside from a select few. Kristin is definitely one of them, but thankfully, she is as obsessed with my work as I am with hers.
When I get home, I have about ten more minutes before I have to change into my evening outfit. In LA, the evenings are cool enough to wear pants. I am so grateful for this, because I feel so much more myself in pants. I write a few sentences, and say my end of day mantra aloud: I am done working today. As a writer, our work could go on forever. But in an active attempt to spend more time living and less time working, verbalizing the end of my day has helped. After I put my computer to sleep, I go meet my friend Josh at a diner, where we are going to play board games.
I used to really care that I finished something each writing day; but nothing is really ever finished. I don’t force myself to do anything anymore. Except drink water. Not surprisingly, taking the pressure off of what happens when I click some keys or touch ink to a piece of paper makes it easier to write. Whatever you do is writing, and each day, I get better at remembering this.
Sofia Fey is a Lesbian and Non-Binary writer living in LA. Currently, they are the founder of the Luminaries Poetry workshop, and poetry editor at Hooligan Magazine. They love to be with their friends, but mostly, to beat them at Mario Party. They tweet @sofiafeycreates.