What am I rambling on about? I'm not sure, but I will pursue the next paragraph to its end, and then, hopefully we shall see!
Being 'A Writer' seems to be something that is - to my surprise - a source of some admiration among people whom I know. Now, this may be a double-edged perspective: either they see what I have done so far as something to be applauded, or - and I have the uncomfortable feeling that this may actually be the case - they are astonished that I have managed to string so many sentences together (and use some words with more than three syllables in the process). The label of 'writer' does, however, seem to imply some mythical status, and perhaps with it comes an imagined romantic lifestyle of tip-tapping at a vintage typewriter in a leather, wood and book-surrounded study with a huge window overlooking the country estate. Ah, if only...
SO! THAT'S where I was going with this post!
As the photograph above hints, my daily life falls somewhat short of a writer's idyll. I shall elucidate (ohhh, another long word!):
This morning, I woke at 0500hrs as my lovely lady stirred to begin her own day. I would have loved to fall back to sleep again for perhaps another two hours of delicious slumber, however since I work shifts, my body clock has the personality of a Tasmanian devil, and once I wake up, it is damned if it will allow me the luxury of slipping back into restful unconsciousness (oh no: it will wait until exactly fourteen minutes after I've eaten my dinner, at which point my head falls to one side and I begin to snore and/or drool). So: awake I was (and turning into Yoda).
I lay there for half an hour or so, willing myself to sleep, but to no avail. With much grumbling to nobody in particular (there was noone around to hear me anyway), lots of strange grunting noises and at least one gaseous expulsion, I arose to face the day and whatever it had planned for me. First, a little catch-up on the world: Facebook, BBC News and CBC news websites (in that order) while the world screamed around on its axis and brought the sun closer to the Eastern horizon. A mug of Yorkshire Tea and a slice (using deliciously unhealthy soft, white bread) of toast helped the waking/emerging process along.
With the sky turning something a tiny bit lighter than navy blue, it was time to take the 110lb dog for his daily walk. He's not very demanding - in fact he's a wonderful pet - but the consequences of not taking him for his countryside meander doesn't bear thinking about (lots and LOTS of dog shit all over the garden). Into the truck we went, and out to the country trail we drove. It was cold - the coldest it's been so far this fall - but dry, at least. Ninety minutes later there I was back at home, chopping up the foul-smelling meat that the dog rather perversely enjoys ingesting, and mixing it with a little rice. So far, the romance and the glamour of the writer's lifestyle were not in evidence.
After feeding the pooch, I found myself in the garage, trying to dismantle (or more accurately: cut into pieces after it refused to be dismantled) as quietly as possible so as to not disturb my son and curtail his usual Friday/Saturday fifteen hours of sleep. I needed to put the bed, the old mattress and some other crap into the back of the truck, and so first I removed the dog's blankets (they stop him sliding about in the truck bed). Fighting dust, dirt and billions of dog hairs (quite how he grows and sheds this many hairs is a scientific mystery), I stuffed the blankets into the washing machine and turned it on before returning to the pile of wood which had once been a bed. Into the truck went the old mattress....into the truck went the multiple pieces of thing/bed, and into the truck, covered by now in dog hairs and sawdust, went the writer, unglamourously .
Now it's only fair at this point to acknowledge that out municipal landfill has to be situated more beautifully than any other dump that I have ever visited. However, it is still a dump, with all the associated sights, sounds and smells. Romantically, I dropped off the debris from the back of the truck, collected a splinter or three and then glamorously dumped the rest of my payload, trying not to allow anyone to notice the mysterious stains (which always seem to materialize on children's mattresses) for fear that they might assume that I was the bed-wetter. For the record, I haven't reached that level of decrepitude just yet...romantically or otherwise.
On the way home I stopped at the local thrift store and deposited a couple of boxes of stuff that my daughter has suddenly - if correctly - decided are surplus to requirements. With a writer's flair, I deposited a box of old shoes/boots and a box of old teen literature before a distinctly unimpressed volunteer, who just about managed to squeeze out a "Thank you." between gritted teeth. I bowed graciously and presented him with the gift of a short soliloquy. No, not really...
Once back at home, I moved a couple of bags of smelly shit (literally shit - I moved some actual goat and cow shit) over to a raised vegetable bed that my wife and I will work on together tomorrow. After this, I allowed myself to shower (no bathing in asses' milk for me), and thus to remove the dog hairs, sawdust and shit from my milky-white skin. It was as I cleaned the shower afterwards that it dawned upon me that I am not perhaps living the life of 'the writer' that I once imagined I would like to become. Not yet, anyway.
Of course, I've probably sold fewer books than there are matches in a small box of...well, matches. I'm not a successful author - I'm just a guy who's written a book (quite a good one, if the feedback is to be believed). I'm not therefore entertaining delusions of grandeur, but I do aspire to the lifestyle that allows me to concentrate on my writing to a degree which is simply a dream at the moment. I'd love that office with a view. I'd love to be at home more than I'm away.
My huge dog is lying on my feet as I type now. He's keeping them warm, and I'm happy about that. In a few moments I will make myself lunch, and it will be distinctly mundane fare: beans on toast. However, I happen to LOVE beans on toast - especially with HP fruity sauce on the beans. And a fried egg. Oh yes. Livin' the dream...
I'm happy about my forthcoming - if simple - lunch. In ninety minutes or so I will meet my wife at a coffee shop for ten minutes as we pass one another: she on her way home from work, and I heading out to work. That's a little, tiny bit romantic. These small joys are there, if I look for them - and I don't have to look very hard, either.
This writer's life may not be spectacularly romantic or 'lifestyle'-y, but I have a long term plan, and it doesn't involve a great deal of money coming in (thankfully!). There are already small things (as you already know: the small things are the important things) which make me smile wistfully, things which excite me because they are signs of changes that are moving me towards my simple dreams.
It's working, you see. To anyone outside of my tiny family circle, my life might appear dull and mundane and not at all that of 'a writer'. However: I'm a writer, and I'm increasingly living the life that I wish to. I can even deal with Saturday morning trips to the smelly dump without feeling unhappy about it.
I'm not there yet, but the life I wish for is pulling me towards it.
I'm rather happy about that...and that makes me a happy writer.