Busy Making a F&%ing Difference
How so much of writing happens in the not-writing
I bought these socks for myself back when I had a “day job” (or, by some definitions, a “real job”). From the fall of 2016 until a few months ago, I worked in a support role for an organization — perhaps one of the few out there — that actually does make a f&%ing difference in the world. Whenever I had a bad day, whenever I felt overwhelmed by the state of the world or beaten down by my personal failures, I could comfort myself with the measurable successes in my job: I played a substantial role in ending the “forever war” in Afghanistan; I helped defeat Trump and turn the Senate blue(ish); I helped mobilize a progressive movement in my conservative hometown. I did something that matters to the world beyond myself.
So this morning…four months out from my last day of full-time “real work,” still struggling to transform my new self-proclaimed title — full-time writer — into a viable everyday rhythm, I came across these socks as I was getting dressed for the day. They were the perfect look to go with my outfit, but could I still claim their message as true? The literal part of my brain that only deals in measurable data and provable facts started filling in the silence. I can’t wear those! What a joke. I’m only “busy” if you count listening to audio books and playing internet Scrabble. And does having more time to put laundry away count as “making a fucking difference”? I don’t think so!
I can easily admit that part of my brain acts like a real jerk sometimes, but I find it much harder to say that it’s wrong. Especially when so much of my life as a writer is spent not writing. And yet…if writers spent all (or even most) of their time writing, what would there even be to write about?
All of these things play a part in the writing process, but they rarely get much credit: walking, listening, breathing, reading, drinking, traveling, running errands, making love, making the bed, missing a deadline, staring at an empty page, getting groceries, listening to music, going to doctor appointments, taking care of children and pets, taking care of our mental health, sitting in the sun, sitting in the shade, having trouble finding a comfortable place to sit, allergies, asthma, depression, medical mysteries, taking medication, getting better, getting worse, arguing, laughing, forgetting to laugh, getting caught in the rain, going to parties, wearing the wrong thing, drinking too much, getting dressed and undressed, losing friends, making mistakes, getting it wrong, getting it right, creative paralysis, indecision, resenting obstacles, envying peers, hating something we actually love, reading the news, watching the news, avoiding the news, breaking our own hearts, sleeping, eating, forgetting to sleep and eat, struggling, wanting, staring into space, falling in love with the wrong person, wasting entire days, wishing we were anywhere but here. And so much more. It’s a whole life — and all of it is writing, even when most of it is not.
Am I making a f&%ing difference? If you measure one day at a time, probably not. I started this blog six months ago, and have yet to publish much real substance. But if you measure over the course of a few months, or a year, or a whole life…I hope you will find something here that moves you to action, gives you insight, helps you solve a problem, shows you a path to healing, holds you in embrace, offers you solace, or just tickles your brain in some way.
To those subscribers who’ve been waiting patiently for this blog to hit its stride…it’s absolutely true that I promised slow and I’ve come through even slower. I’m so grateful for your support. We’ll get there soon.