Momentum and mountains

One of my most common excuses for not doing writing is that I don’t have a decent place to write. Since September of last year, I have a home office, but it hasn’t felt like an inviting place: there have been boxes and recyclable bags left unpacked since the move, the bare walls make a horrible echo, and there’s been a spare monitor at my feet when I sit at my desk.

No more.

I’ve been tackling various parts of my home in the past few days, finally claiming these spaces instead of leaving projects unfinished. I alphabetised my DVD rack and pared down my collection to what fit on the shelves. I mounted a painting, a canvas, and a poster. I came into my home office and emptied boxes.

One of these boxes was filled with a stack of papers that I had basically packed that way, the mountain on top of the file cabinet. Tax documents for annual income, investment and loan statements, the instruction manual for my toaster oven. Luckily, I bought hanging folders and labels years ago, so I started sorting through the pile, making a new folder whenever it was necessary (FIVE just for writing!). In short order, the mountain had been ground down and sifted into separate containers, clearly identified, easy to find if need be.

I had started with a simple task, and let the momentum from that carry me until the office was nearly done! I did take a break to eat something—this the result of ONE cup of coffee—and instead of returning to the physical stuff, I updated my CV and came here. Still time well spent, imo.

These are all things that I could have done at any time during the past four months, though I expect my neighbours are grateful I don’t typically use the hammer after dark. It just seemed like so much, and the thought of even starting with one tiny thing felt impossible. I at least had to clear a space and take down a box and grab a marker… it becomes easy to make excuses, easier to maintain them, even in the face of guilt.

I gave myself the benefit of having started and completed other projects, like reorganising my DVDs. I also put on an energetic playlist and had caffeine singing in my veins. I may have a box, a pair of rollerblades, and some paper garbage to take care of; but that seems like nothing against the mountain of papers I’ve already conquered. I’ll get it done.

I’m a writer because I write

Last year was amazing in terms of establishing who I am as a writer in my own mind. I have struggled with this identity in the past, especially since any declaration is immediately followed with the question, “What have you published?” It’s a common measure of a writer’s worth; since I have nothing published, I often felt worthless as a writer.

My therapist was the one to suggest that I join a community of writers. This led me to a state of panic; who am I compared to these “real” writers, will they judge me, and so on. I have found support and encouragement and friendship within the Quebec Writers’ Federation, and that has done a lot to fuel my creative drive. Even before I met anyone from the organisation, I threw myself into my work so that I would have something of substance to discuss with these other writers.

I have started a new novel that I have a deep emotional connection to. I have participated in a storytelling workshop and found a new way to create and express myself that is extremely gratifying. I have further solidified in my mind that I am a writer, despite having nothing published, because I write.

So what have I been writing lately?

Work on the novel continues at a satisfying pace. I am nearly at 30,000 words, and I believe I can finish a rough draft by spring. My bid for publication continues as I submit short stories to literary reviews, consequently increasing my body of work and giving me a lot more evidence to present to my impostor voice. I have also kept up writing stories and submitting them to Confabulation; I loved being on that stage and I can’t wait to feel that again.

I’m looking for work, but at least I will be able to use the extra time to my advantage.