by Assistant Director, Emily Lackey
The other day, during a text conversation with a writer friend of mine, she said something that made me stop. While talking about finding the time to write and never having enough time to write and listing off all the things that get in the way of our writing (what else do writers talk about, really?), she said, “Yeah, but you get it done. You have your shit together.”
I looked at my phone screen confused. How is that the perception that you have of me? The day before I had slept until noon, forgotten to eat, gone to Black Birch for a glass of wine, ended up having an entire bottle, and picked up a dozen Insomnia cookies on the way home. I ate six of them before I made myself sick. It was a Thursday.
It was possible that my friend had the impression that I had my shit together because I recently finished a first draft of my book. But if that is where her assumption came from, I needed to dispel that immediately.
“I don’t have my shit together,” I said. “I just take workshops that force me to write.”
I learned this pretty early on in my days post-MFA: if there wasn’t something compelling me to write, I wasn’t going to do it. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to write or how much I thought about writing. If I didn’t commit to some sort of structure with other people who expected me to show up (and, let’s be honest, some sort of financial commitment), I wasn’t going to do it.
I tried to resist it. If I were a real writer, I would just write, right?
Wrong. I couldn’t do it, and I know a lot of other writers who can’t do it either.
What consistency has come down to for me is doing whatever the hell I need to do to con myself into getting the writing done. For the past few years, it has been leading and taking workshops at Writers in Progress.
A woman in my weekly support group for writers talked this past weekend about this same need but in a different way. Her realization was that she needed to say yes to the things that put writing at the center of her life. For her, it was applying to write with one of the original Guerrilla Girls and then getting in. A dream come true.
For me, my most recent yes moment came from applying to Bread Loaf’s Summer of Writing program, a virtual reimagining of the Bread School of English and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, both of which were canceled this summer as a result of COVID-19. And, like my friend, I got in! For the month of July, I’ll be working with author Jane Brox and two other writers to focus on finding the right beginning for my book, testing out different starting points in our twice-weekly workshops to see which one sticks.
What about you? What are you saying yes to this summer? What are you doing to con yourself into getting the work done?
Join Emily’s Writing From Life workshop starts tonight and has a couple of open spots! Register here…