Yesterday I was all intoxicated and smug, talking about the writing compulsion that grips every writer out there, my review of Watchmen glowing upon its white background, the little words strung together with a modicum of poetry. Today I waded through some piece regarding beauty and the sublime, then I checked my bank account and badly wished I hadn’t. Now I feel like I am walking on eggshells balancing a tray of Bellinis on my head, the whole room watching.
It was fine to plot out an economic strategy between the End Of My Job and the Day I Would Need One Again. The lag between these two points seemed as deep and as wide as a chasm; I couldn’t even see the other side of it. Now that I can, and even too well, I don’t feel so inclined to proselytise about staying positive and concentrating on the writing and doing what I want to do and all the rest of it any longer. In fact, I’ve almost started to draft a script for a call to my bank manager. I could ignore him, of course, but I must admit I’d much rather make that call myself than being 'surprised' by it. That why, I’ll feel in control, even though there is nothing to feel in control about.
So I sat on the edge of my bed discomfited and defeated by the economic situation, by which I don’t mean the recession of course, but my own situation. It felt great to take the plunge just before my birthday, but didn’t I figure out then that the academic year only starts in September and that finding myself out of funds by the middle of March, and six months before the following academic year, would have spelt I S S U E on the sand? And if I didn’t, why on earth not? Anyway, too late now.
As my gaze travelled from white clogs to shelves to books, one little volume came into focus, Terry Brooks’s Sometimes The Magic Works. I am absolutely sure I mentioned this a few months ago, when I promised I would soon talk about it. What happened then? Was it when I went through a phase of recipes? Whatever it was, flipping it open today brought me back to the compulsion issue.
Writing is habit-forming. It is addictive. [...] What is interesting to me now, more than forty years after that first story, is how deeply enmeshed I am in what I do. It is beyond reasonable. If I don’t write, I become restless and ill-tempered. I become dissatisfied. My reaction to not writing is both physical and emotional. I am incomplete without my work. I am so closely bound to it, so much identified by it, that without it I think I would crumble into dust and drift away. One of my writer friends has an ironclad rule about her work. She writes five pages every day, no matter where is or what she is doing. It doesn’t matter if she is sick. It doesn’t matter if she has to get up and write at four in the morning. She does it. I understand why. She is afraid that if she doesn’t, she will lose her identity and her presence and disintegrate. She is the sum of her words. She is her writing.
There, good old Brooks. I never thought much of him (and I only read his Landover books when I was a child), but what I think is completely irrelevant because you have it right here again, picked out of a random page, we write because we are compelled, we write because of writing’s sake, we write because it defines us and is part of our identity. No, writing is our identity. I write therefore I am. Ha, that almost makes me laugh, but you get the gist.
Why am I not sitting in front of Reed or Monster or TotalJobs? Why am I not stringing some ideas together so that I can perhaps start chasing a temp job, in any shape or form, before my bank account starts ringing alarm bells? Well, because it feels better to write, even a meaningless page about the mundane and money and being unable to follow one’s own calling. And you know something else? Sometimes I come across women that say that feminism has given us the choice to do as it pleases us, be it stay-at-home mums or company directors. What fools, what fucking uneducated fools my friends. Feminism may give us the opportunity (not the choice) to have it one way or the other but only an idiot would think that choice and freedom of action were gifted upon us by it. It is our own economic situation that calls the shots, each and every time, and whoever thinks otherwise is someone who doesn’t have to walk on eggshells.