I’m guilty, too—check out this lovely, peaceful, filtered image I once shared on Instagram as I began a 10-hour writing session at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.
Also, here’s the part that I didn’t share: the face behind the photo.
Today, we discuss what happens when you search Google Images for “writer.” Check out two of my favorite results:
I am not that kind of writer.
Not pictured in my hoodie-selfie are the headphones I usually clamp over my greasy hair before strangling myself with the hood's knotted strings. Most of my writer-friends listen to music when they write, or they listen to nothing at all.
I listen to white noise.
I downloaded a 2:34-long track of white noise from the Internet, and I play it on loop through my headphones. It sounds a little like rain and a little like madness, and it keeps reality from interfering with the worlds I want to construct.
Sometimes, presenting writing as something magical makes me feel special and powerful and glamorous. Remember my floor-pallet? It had an ancestor. Here’s the photo I shared on Facebook, back when I first moved into my house.
Once I built my nest on the floor, though—that’s when the writing happened.
After I hit my stride, I didn’t have a coherent conversation with Paul for weeks. I did repeatedly ask him frightening, nonsensical questions about disinfecting facial wounds. Poor, poor Paul.
My favored writing position wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it worked. I flattened my back against the never-to-be-constructed box (which I bought to house file folders I've not yet filled), bent my knees, grabbed that second-hand laptop, and settled it on my lap where my nose nearly touched the screen. I burrowed into the ground and into the text and into my hoodie, and I didn’t shower until I needed to pause because my vision was failing. Despite having abandoned Easy Mac in my junior year of college, I regressed to that stage in life when, so long as I survived, eating proved more chore than privilege.
Later this week, Amazon will send me a real desk and a real chair (thanks to the support and old-school patronage of some dear friends). I know I’ll be able to write the sequel to Bless the Skies with a desk and a chair.
But part of me will almost miss my writer’s nest. And I wanted to share it, because we so rarely see the messy writers, the crazy writers, the writers who can’t afford to summer in the mountains in big, airy cabins, the writers who couldn’t possibly ply their trade in a coffee shop without disturbing the peace.
I am one of those writers.
And while my process might not be magical, my San Francisco hoodie and duct-taped headphones sure are.