A while back I recall talking to my writer friend Jim, and as usual whenever two writers get together much of our conversation was about how difficult it is to write, and about how it often seems that the entire world is conspiring to prevent us from writing.  It has ever been thus.  Earlier this summer my wife and I took a long vacation in the U.K. which, while a delightful adventure for both of us, prevented me from doing any writing during that time.  Then I went through a period at my job (I work part-time doing computer work at a university) in which I was working feverishly on some urgent technical problems and had no time or energy or attention to devote to anything literary, or indeed to anything other than my job.  If only I were able to give up all my responsibilities and just write all the time!  How many writers down through the centuries must have said that to themselves?

I now seem to be in a pretty regular routine of writing on my ongoing book project (this is in addition to my work on writing poems! and my music practice, and everything else that’s going on in my somewhat complicated life), though it is a routine that requires a constant effort, a deliberate and conscious pushing forward each day.  For a while I had thought that after our vacation and after finally getting all of my technical problems straightened out at work, that I would be able to “settle down” to a regular routine of writing.  This is how I’ve often described it to my wife and my friends, the “settling down” into a writing routine.  I now think that there is no such settling down.  Instead it is a little daily struggle that I have to re-commit myself to each day.  My daily goal is only to write one page.  That does not seem like a very ambitious goal!  Especially compared to many professional writers I’ve heard of who seem to be able to churn out many pages per day.  But for me, if I can produce a page per day I feel I’m actually doing pretty well.  I sit down in front of the keyboard and look at the screen with a minor sense of panic, saying to myself “how can I come up with one more page?”  I’m not sure if I can do it.  I have to push myself to get over that initial barrier, that instinctive hesitation.  Then once I do, for a while I become totally focused with all of my attention and energy on the challenge of writing just that one fucking page.

When I’m done I sit back with a sense of exhilaration and satisfaction, and also a sense of wonder that I was actually able to do that day’s page.  I feel like pumping my fist into the air and shouting “woohee!  I actually finished today’s page!”  Yes, pathetic I know.  But that’s the way the writing is going for me.

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