Thursday, May 28.
When I was a girl, I had a battered turquoise trilby hat. It was soft and comfy, and when I donned it, I felt energized. My bedroom had east and south facing windows, so I got a lot of lovely light most the day. A sunny window, small table, kitchen chair, notebook and pen, and that hat. I was in business. I always had to have the hat, though. Without it, I thought stories might never reach paper.
I felt like a writer, and with the hat I thought I looked like a writer. Back then, it was important to look the part as well as feel the part.
What I failed to realize in those gauzy, dreamy youthful days is that a writer is so much more than looks and feelings. The world around does not drop away or neatly fold in on itself when we sit down to write. Barking dogs, chattering spouses, traffic, ringing phones, television … none of these suddenly hush into blessed silence just because we’re writing. Hungry stomachs must be fed. Dirty houses need to be cleaned. Overgrown lawns need to be mowed. Dogs need to go outside. Family demands must be met. None of this just because we put on a sweet old hat and sit near a sunny window with a story bursting for release.
Writers need to realize we are not as special as we first perceived ourselves to be. The world will neither change nor stop for us. Rather, we often must stop and adapt to what’s going on.
When our dog Frankie became unexpectedly ill then passed away last week, grief did not step back and let me go forward with my novel. Rather, the writer in me moved aside and allowed the emotional woman have her time of mourning and memories. From the time he was a puppy until the day before he died, Frankie lay beside my chair as I wrote, and curled up near my feet in the kneehole of the desk. No hat was going to stem the tide of that hurt. I have cried myself dry, at least for now, and am ready to return to work.
I never realized, when I was 14 years old and steaming toward a writing career like a new ship with full cargo, that ports, shoals, storms, and calm seas lay before me. Had I known of the pain and frustration ahead, would I have continued my voyage?
Of course I would. This is, after all, my calling. With or without a hat.