It’s 7:45 at night and I eat Raisin Bran out of an over-sized bowl. Dinner for one. The house is quiet except for the rain, and I tap out the rest of chapter 7 just as the cloud cover begins to lift. The trees are black against a barely lit sky, and I consider how fast time flies when you’re making art. Ideas are showing up like bouquets out of baskets; colorful, happy, surprising ideas. And they tip their hats and curtsy their skirts and greet me like kind, new friends waiting to come alive in my company. They are delighted by my attention.
It’s time to stop, finished or not. This time, I meet my personal deadline for the day. I gather up the laundry, fold it in front of Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightly version, but still good company). I settle in to the warm couch, content to be alone with my pillows and my thoughts. I think about my word count today: I am now up to 31,000 words on my second manuscript. That feels like a milestone, more so than 10 or 20. I am pleased with the direction. I eat ice cream and grin.
I chase three Advil down with cold coffee. It’s a writing day, but the Muse doesn’t know it. She packed up her sparkly bags last Thursday and headed off to Tuscany, stuffing all of my passion and heart into those zipped up bags, tucking away my good ideas deep into her purse. But I’m a professional, and I no longer wait for a Muse to return from her long vacation. Instead, I sit in my chair, face the day, fight the pull of the internet and the dust on the baseboards. And I work. I type out 57 words and they are all ridiculous. For a moment I fear death, because I have written these words and someone may find them when I’m gone and think I was serious. Erase them, and fast! But I don’t, because then I will have nothing to show for the work. And today, the work is more important than my pride.
The phone rings. I get an email from my publisher. I remember my seven year old has no clean underwear. The dog barks incessantly. I have until 1 pm to work, time cut out and planned for writing. I look at the clock, I will write for the next 30 minutes no matter what. And I do, and it’s terrible. Laughable. Embarrassing. I begin to type I have nothing more to say just to see the word count go up. I know I’ll have to start over. I feel discouraged. Cry a little. Keep on writing. Check my email. Wash the dishes. Look at the oven. Think about dinner. Cry again. I fail to meet my personal deadline for the day. But it’s time to stop, finished or not. I pray for the Lord to redeem the time. I believe that he can, I have doubts that he will. But then I remember that he’s done it before. No day of writing is wasted, even a bad one.
And that is how it goes, from one writing day to the next. The only predictable thing about a day of writing is that work always has to get done. That is the constant. Everything else will change. And so you have to make your own constants. Show up. Stay there. Work hard. Believe truth. Resist criticism. Embrace today. Surrender yourself to a relentless pursuit of the art.