Today, I’m 480 feet above sea level, and give or take 156 feet, you will find me at 39.983501°N 83.045066°W. This is my writing chair. I rarely get the chance to sit here anymore but when I do it feels like I’m taking my first breaths.
Perhaps this has happened to you. You get involved with something. You get distracted. You lose your place and when you wake up you’re driving 80 miles an hour down the highway with a scuba diver, a muskrat, and four mermaids in the backseat. Well, to be fair, if that last part happened, you probably drank a Four Loko last night and your car is significantly larger than mine, but I digress.
Distraction is part of the business. You can’t avoid it no matter how vigilant you remain. It will happen. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to fight it off or build habits and practices that protect against its whimsical charms. Yes, by all means, do that, but realize that distraction happens. When it does, don’t dwell on it. The longer you hold onto a distraction, the more likely it is to become a wall. The key thing is to never let go.
Never letting go is one of the things I’ve learned about writing. Of course, first and foremost is sit down and shut up. You’ll find it is so much easier to write when you are actually writing and not talking about writing or walking about and dreaming about writing. Second is be selfish. Writing takes time, time that you could give over to other pursuits or someone else’s interests. Be selfish and take that time for yourself and your work. Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, writing does not happen in the margins. Still, the third and perhaps most crtitical thing is never let go.
Life is not going to make things easy for you. That’s the whole point. Life is supposed to be hard. It is supposed to be a struggle. If it is easy, then you’re probably floating on the surface or just going with the flow. In which case you should remember that only dead fish go with the flow, even very successful dead fish.
But it’s difficult to write when you’re underwater… I know, I know. Yet, note that I said difficult, not impossible.
The fact of the matter is that you will probably have to learn to write underwater if you are ever going to get anything done. It is as unavoidable as life, which is to say that things will happen and you will get distracted. You may stay submerged for a very long time, in which case a metaphor like this one will start to sound pretty good to your oxygen-starved mind. Don’t worry too much about that, just keep swimming.
I may be in my writing seat for the first time in months, but I’m 480 feet above sea level. I’m sitting in the sun. I’m writing… And maybe, with just a little oxygen, I might write something more coherent than this post.