I’m Working

1904147_1481389815416550_916882486_nThe other day a dear friend was on the road alone for hours, driving from Kansas to Arkansas, when she called.  It was 10:30 am.  I’ve gotten into the habit of not answering my phone when I’m writing, but I made an exception.  Why was she calling in the middle of the day?  Maybe something was wrong.

When she asked what I was doing, I said, “I’m working.”

This took her aback.  “Whoa.  What?”

“Working.  You know, writing.”

“Oh,” she said, laughing.  “You scared me there for a minute.  I thought you got a job!”

Which reminded me that the only person I say the words “I’m working” to is my husband.  Every morning, we ask each other what do you have going on today?  and I’m always very clear.  “I’m walking the old dogs, running with JoJo, and then I’m working,” I might say.

He never laughs.

I rarely, if ever, say those words to anyone else.

My neighbors know when I’m writing because they see the lights on at the strangest hours, and they might spot me in the yard picking up dog-poo at 2 pm … in my robe … and say over the fence, “Are you writing?  How’s it going?”  (love them)  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a realist.  I’m well aware that I’m not catching the train at six or chairing meetings or bringing home a check that pays my mortgage (thank you, husband, with a job) but if I don’t take this seriously and call it work and get it done, who will?

For the last few weeks, I’ve said the words I’m working on a regular basis.  Every day.  And guess what?  I’m working more.  I’m even working on Saturdays and Sundays, and often at 5 am.  Maybe it’s like boys who pee in a circle to mark their territory.  By saying the words out loud I’m carving out my space — uninterruptible time — when I go to my “office” and shut the door.

I forget who said, There is no writers block, there is just not writing.  It’s not the internet or social media or email or other distractions that are keeping me from carving out my space.  It’s just me, not taking it seriously enough to call it work.  It’s just me, not writing.


21 thoughts on “I’m Working

  1. donnaeve

    I swear, I feel like I just channeled you, or you channeled me. I could have written this – almost verbatim! I get comments all the time like, “now that you’re retired…you could…(insert whatever).” WTF??? Am I? Why am I staring at the computer more than I did when I was “working?” Why do I look dazed and red eyed on most days, have on my “pajamas” at noon, and sometimes don’t wash my hair for three? What are those dark circles under my eyes? Oh. That’s right. The stress of retirement. I get it. And ditto, I know I don’t have to leave the house, I don’t have to plaster on a “work” face. But I’m working. Trust me.

    (My husband never laughs either. What are you doing today? Oh, my run – or yoga – eat and then I’m getting back into “it.”)

  2. Les

    I use the same phrase, and it’s really funny how many people don’t get it:
    “What do you mean, you’re working?”
    “I’m writing.”
    “Oh, writing…” as if it were some lesser activity, not to be confused with actual work. I have a little note card at my writing table that I bought a long time ago to remind myself; it has a picture of a typewriter on it, and below just the imperative, “Do work.” I think it was John Cheever who actually would get up, shower, put on a full suit with a tie, then walk from his bedroom upstairs to his basement downstairs, take off his coat and hang it on a rack, and sit down to start his writing day.

    1. Teri Post author

      And when someone makes that comment — Oh, writing — I tend to shrivel down into a tinier person and almost apologize.

      It’s like the chicken and the egg. You’re considered a writer (by non writers) once you’ve published a bunch of work, or a book or two. But how can you publish, or even write, anything without writing being your “work.”

      And ’round and ’round we go …

      1. Les

        Yeah, like it’s fun or something. If they’d realize the amount of blood we leave on the page I bet their reactions would be different.

      2. Teri Post author

        And tears.

        My son just sent me a text message: How was “work” today. (smiley face with tongue out) I’m glad to know I’ve raised irreverent and humorous children ….

      3. jpon

        I find that the people who think writing is so easy (and valueless) usually have trouble compiling something even as simple as a grocery list.

  3. Josey

    i read a quote not too long ago that I got snagged on, like a loose thread from a sweater:

    “Those with something to fall back on, invariably fall back on it. They intended to all along. That is why they provided themselves with it. But those with no alternative see the world differently.”

    I just searched it and found it’s from David Mamet’s “True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor.” He goes on to say, “Those of you with nothing to fall back on, you will find, are home.”

    This is directly what you speak of, but a different side of the coin for me. Work. Writing. Not working. Not writing. Not committing 100 percent to any of it.

    I don’t know. It’s all messing with my head. In other news, I watched three House of Cards episodes back-to-back last night before falling asleep on the couch.

    1. Teri Post author

      Well. While you were watching that well-written and powerful drama last night, I was watching Real Housewives of Orange County and commenting on how very skinny the women are. Is it natural to be that thin?? How do they stay so thin?!?! How is that possible for women my age? No, really, how does any woman over 40 have gaps between their thighs like that? Did Tamra have an eye lift, or an entire facelift?

      You win.

    1. Teri Post author

      That’s what I keep telling my husband: I’m right, I’m right, I’m right! Admittedly, I’m rarely right, but I can wail and yell it out like I might be. 😉

  4. jpon

    “It’s not the internet or social media or email or other distractions that are keeping me from carving out my space. ”

    Yes, but they sure don’t help.

  5. Averil Dean

    No one believes it’s work. If I hear one more person refer to all the fun I’m having as a writer, I may seriously lose my shit. Writing isn’t fun, most of the time. It’s hard work, and you have to make yourself do it day after day after motherfucking day with the full knowledge that no one gives a flying fuck whether you finish or don’t.

    Sorry. I have forty {more here}s in my manuscript to attend to by the end of the month and it seems I’ve become tetchy on the subject. I would like to be asleep right now instead of headed back to the coffee pot and my endless, suckish pages.

    1. Teri Post author

      I often feel like I’m being patted on the head. “Awwwww, isn’t she sweet, writing stories and all.”

  6. lisahgolden

    Keep working. The more I do what I do NOT want to do, the more I realize I have to find a way to marry working with earning a living. Enough of this bullshit job business. Keep working, Teri. It’s the only way you’ll do what you mean to do – tell your story.

    1. Teri Post author

      I miss you Lisa Golden! And I miss those good old days of reading your blog every single morning. You were my “news.” And I know you’ve got some stories to tell.

  7. Pingback: work |wərk| « Averil Dean

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