July 31, 2006

Write On

"So, what do you do?" asks New Person.
"I'm a writer," I reply.
"Oh, so, like how do you do that?"

Good question. My sister will tell you it means I surf the net all day and drink tea. I admit it sometimes looks like that, but it is far more involved. I have two papers delivered each morning, and read about 6 more on line. Then I move to my favourite sites (Salon, Go Fug Yourself, The Superficial and a bunch more) because I'm looking for material I tell her.

I drink pot after pot of tea. I'm usually up by 6 or 6:30, unless I'm being felled by another headache. If it's a column day, I've usually been awake a lot in the night starting it in my head. Hard to believe so much thought goes into those, eh?

The hardest days are days like this one. The cover of every paper plastered with the agony of war. 37 children killed. I have to absorb this from the Spec, the Star, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the National Post, the English Indpendent, and the L.A. Times, over and over and over. I usually start my day with a good cry. I'm thinking if you don't, you must be made of stone. These are real people.

I have a ton of respect for the people I know that write books, both fiction and non-fiction. Writers, if they're remotely successful, are a very disciplined lot. We get up early; we write at the same time every day; we work every day; we get crabby if someone mucks with the process.

But whereas what I write can, and is, flavoured by my mood, my book writing friends have to keep in a tone that is consistent. I get to vent and bitch; they don't. I admire that. There is a restraint that is hard to have because much writing is such an emotional pursuit. My work can skitter around between meloncholy and joy, outrage and sarcasm, wonder and disbelief. My emotional attachment is my stock in trade.

It gets very crowded in my brain. Every day I love discovering new things and learning how much more I have to learn. But we live in a painful world and there are days I literally can't rope in everything and make sense of it.

Kettle's whistling...


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