Jane Smiley used to ride at the same barn where I took a few lessons in my youth. You know, Pulitzer prize winner Jane Smiley, author of a dozen NY Times bestsellers? That Jane Smiley. I groupie-stalked her from afar. She looked so… normal.
I’d never read one of her books–I still haven’t, to be honest–but I was in awe of having a real-life author that close. Books were my best friends, and she’d not only written a ton of them but they’d sold. People had read them.
I imagined her life as an author–whirlwind book signings, tours across America and then later the world. I pictured her writing process–lots of black coffee and green tea and a polished wood desk in the middle of an austere room. Someday, I thought, maybe I will write a book, too.
Today my first book is well underway, and I laughed all weekend at what my own writerly process looks like. Lots of coffee, of course, but never black (I have the refined palate of a 12-year-old and drink my coffee as such). A pristine writing space? Hardly.
Because we have little kids and the kitchen table is SO not an option for doing anything productive besides shoveling mac and cheese into the toddler, my writing happens in one of two places:
- Our walk-in closet (my “writing studio” aka the place where we keep our clothes, our dirty laundry, and the shredder), …or…
- Whatever coffee shop has an open table and no one yelling loudly on a cell phone.
Earphones only do so much, people.
Despite being 9/10ths of the way there with a first draft of the book, I still don’t like green tea and the only writing-related jet-setting I’m doing this year is a few days of continuing education at Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing. (Which will be awesome, by the way.)
Turns out life as a writer looks a lot like life as… me. Showing up, putting in the time, writing, editing, deleting, writing again. Saturdays and early mornings and lunch breaks and late nights.
Had I known that writing was 99% plain old boring effort back when I was ten, I would have left poor Jane Smiley alone.
Sorry, Jane. But thanks for the inspiration.
Do you write? Where does your magic happen?