I think I've been writing since before I learned how to read--and I don't say that to sound #deep. I mean...I found a childhood drawing in one of my mom's hatboxes, and on the back of the paper, I noticed there's this series of unintelligible dashes that occasionally repeat themselves. Like there's some methodical order to the chaos.
When I asked my mom, she said that I had tried to write a book at age three. Apparently I didn't like the ending of a picture book she had read to me before bed one night...and I thought I could do better.
Fast forward twenty years and here I am with a manuscript that I should be revising . I'm tired, though; and this late-afternoon rain outside my window just sounds too peaceful. Warm gray clouds and humid summer air swirl slowly together. The whir of an electric bus hums in a muffled haze, while tires speed down slick asphalt. I want to make some tea, curl under my blankets, and watch a Disney movie in my pajamas (hey c'mon--I spent my post-work commute blasting Moana).
Yet instead of Moana, or Netflix, or a nap, I open my laptop to a blank document, hoping to wake myself up a bit...
They say that if you do what you love, then you never work a day in your life. But I disagree.
If you do what you love, chances are you're exhausted. Because oftentimes we have to work hard for what we love.
In my case, this means coming home after work and slapping myself silly until I wake up enough to chug out some revisions, edits, or drafts. It means writing everyday, even when words don't want to work. It means skipping family dinners so I can fix some plot-holes, means lesson planning from five to eight pm then writing from eight to midnight. It means a back-log of TV-shows I'd like to watch because my free time is spent on a "second-job" I'm trying to kick-start, means struggling against a headache because I've literally been thinking all day--"complex abstractions and the build up of thematic motifs as well as nuanced English-language semantics and Bloom's taxonomy for your students" thinking. Sometimes it means I schedule out my entire week, and the only "Me-Time" I've got is a two hour break on Thursday evening after martial arts.
(Isn't there some stereotypical millennial phrase for this? The side-hustle? Whatever.)
Between writing and my goal to teach ESL abroad by Fall 2018, I find myself cramming hours of work into the day. I'm trying to workout, learn a new language, practice another language, study CELTA and TESOL, write regularly, read style books, and revise my manuscript...on top of my teaching job ...on top of a social life...of self-care too, I guess. And I'm trying to do most of this daily.
God I want to nap.
But I also know that I'm happiest after I've written, like I've fallen into a new world that's given me space to breathe. I write, and it's uncovering faeries or chasing mermaids or looking for Neverland. It's cliche and it's crap and it's my lifeline, my sense of wonder in a world that can easily lose it's awe. When I write, things really do melt away. Who I am, who I was, who I might become. It all fades until suddenly it's just me and this steady click-clack of computer keys that mimics the tip-tap of raindrops on a windowpane. Maybe when I write, it's that I'm less and more than I've ever been.
Less fearful. Less anxious. Less hesitant.
More human. More alive. More magic.
And that's it...that's why I push through the exhaustion everyday after work, why I choose to edit drafts for an extra hour, put my novel's major plot points on index cards that I rearrange and tape on my walls--why I write even when I'd rather sleep.
I'm in pursuit of magic, and no one ever said it'd be an easy find.