This post is #20 in a series of 50 dedicated to the art and life of writing, in support of the 50 for 50 Project to benefit WriteGirl. If you like it, or if you think it could have been improved by a better writing education for its author, please give generously. And pass it on.
One of the small details that I love about the WriteGirl program is that at the beginning of each season, each WriteGirl mentee gets her own journal to write in.
The mentors get one, too, but it is that special attention to the girls receiving something just for them, just for writing, and often for the very first time, that really digs at my heart. I grew up with my own room and my own desk inside of it with my own drawers full of things to write with, in, and on. I had a door that closed and parents who let me do just that, shut my door and let my mind and my pen wander for hours at a time. Carving out the time and space for writing, devoting resources to writing, are part of what makes writing happen.
These days, I design my life to give me the most possible time and space for writing. When my medium-sized desk wasn’t providing enough horizontal space for me, I got rid of my couch to clear room for a massive table. I live alone, an incredible luxury, and I work for myself, so I can write whenever I feel the urge (and even more importantly, when I don’t). Soon enough, I will be re-introducing a good deal of travel for work into the mix, but even then there are airports and airplanes and luxuriously ALL-MINE hotel rooms: still plenty of ways to steal some room for myself to write, even if the circumstances aren’t as plushly ideal as they are here at communicatrix home base.
There were times when there wasn’t as much time nor as much room. Or when there might have been, but I chose to fuss about the details that weren’t exactly right: a pen that was too draggy, a journal that didn’t lie flat enough, a “private” area for writing that wasn’t private enough.
What I know is that as a grownup, there’s almost always a way to provide myself with the room necessary to write. At my most determined there was a stretch of days where I’d committed to morning pages and a road trip at the same time. So every morning, at the ass-crack of dawn, I roused myself from sleep before my partner woke up, took my crappy spiral notebook into the motel bathroom, and used the closed toilet lid for a writing desk. You do what you must to do what you must.
A girl who is still at home, however, surrounded by noises and people and obligations she has little control over, that girl needs help stealing the time to write. And so the notebook, a physical emblem of the worthiness of her writing, and creating space and time for it. And then the weekly meetings with her mentor that say “this writing is important, this time is important, and you are important.” Hopefully after that follows the habit, ultimately rendering stuff like This Particular Notebook/Space/Time irrelevant, until she can write on stolen paper and stolen time, in the midst of chaos, maybe with earplugs, at someone else’s dining room table. Or, if she needs a wee bit more privacy, on someone else’s closed toilet-seat cover.
She will do what she must to do what she must, and eventually, she will change the world as surely as she has changed her own life.