We all we got

After graduating college and moving in with Andy, one of the first things I did was buy a desk. I needed a desk, I thought. How else could I write if I didn’t have a dedicated space for it?

Next I bought a chair. Of course. What good is a desk without a chair?

Then I got a new computer. (A gift.) A beautiful, shiny MacBook. A dream machine. What else could I possibly need?

An external keyboard. A new desk. Another new desk. And another. I rearranged the furniture. I got dictation software. I tried a different word processing program. And another. And another.

I went to the library to work. I went to a coffee shop. I stayed home and turned off my internet. I turned it back on. I worked with music, and without. I stayed up late. I got up early.

I’ve tried everything, and really, the changes are minute. Good days and bad days still come in about the same ratio. The words have their pace, their rhythm. They don’t answer to me or my environment.

Sometimes I find myself thinking, “Well, someday.” Someday I’ll have a real office. Someday I’ll be able to afford to work at a coffee shop every day. Someday I’ll have an agent, an editor, deadlines. (Fans, awards, a movie deal.) Someday I’ll buy a better chair.

And maybe someday I will. Maybe someday I will have all of those things and more. But even now, in the midst of the daydreaming and wishing, I know.

I know that those things won’t — can’t — do what I need to do.

I know that it’s nice to have good tools in your arsenal, but they’re not going to do the work for you.

And I know I’m not the only one who falls into this trap. We all get caught up in thinking — imagining, believing — that things will be different — better, easier — in the future. But the truth is, no matter how much money we have, or how famous we get, or how good our chair is, or how delicious the muffins are at the coffee shop where we work instead of at a folding table in our bedroom… No matter what’s around us, it’s what inside us that counts.

Aspiring, midlist, unknown, bestseller. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same place. We’re all faced with the page. The story. The words.

Nothing changes that. Ever.

10 responses to “We all we got”

  1. Anthony Lee Collins Avatar

    The modern obsession with always having to have the newest, the best, etc. is not limited to writers. Look at the people who line up for the newest iPhone when it comes out.

    I think you’re right; the job of writing is the same as it ever was. A comfy chair can help, but it won’t put the words on the page. Writing on a computer has some advantages over writing on a typewriter, but many great novels were written on typewriters, and with pen and paper.

  2. Mieke Zamora-Mackay Avatar

    Amen, Kristan.

    None of this will put down the words for us. Only we can.

  3. gingermandy Avatar

    Right on. I think more creatives need to realize that waiting or wishing for something more high tech with the thought that it will help them be ‘better’ is just another excuse, and excuses KILL the process. If you want to do something bad enough, you have to pull a Tim Gunn and make it work. :)

    It’s funny because people are so amazed that I’ve been working for myself for 3 years and I don’t have a Mac or really fancy computer and I JUST got a smart phone. My computer sucks and I hate it but it gets the job done, but I really have no excuse for the phone thing haha. It makes life so much easier.

  4. Shari Avatar

    So true – and so important to always remember. External factors can influence the way we write, but only the internal ones impact the actual words. It’s up to us to tell those stories. :)

  5. Natalia Sylvester Avatar

    “We’re all faced with the page. The story. The words.”

    I love everything about this post. I think with any craft we can become obsessed with the tools, when really we’re just putting off the hardest part: starting. Give a writer the perfect office and best computer, and give another one a dark room with pen and paper, and the one who’ll get it done is simply the one who wants it more.

  6. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    I find myself wishing for more space to write (no desk, only a corner) but yes you’re right: the most important thing is the writing. On the other hand, its also good not to kill your writing future with bad ergonomics (been there, done that). Sometimes we need some things too, and some things can be better. Not easier though, never easier.

  7. Shari Green Avatar

    Great post, Kristan. We just gotta do the work to tell our stories, with or without the perfect tools and environment. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  8. Juliann Avatar

    I love this post! So true. It made me think of J.K. Rowling. Guess I’m not giving up on my delusions of grandeur. :)

  9. Jon Avatar

    “Aspiring, midlist, unknown, bestseller. At the end of the day, we’re all in the same place. We’re all faced with the page. The story. The words.”

    This is a great quote, Kristan. It’s both reassuring and vaguely unsettling. But it’s this possibility that makes the craft of writing so wonderful.

    Thanks for posting this.

  10. Kristan Avatar

    I’m not so sure this obsession is limited to modern day… But yeah, it’s a bandaid. It covers up whatever we really need.

    Eh, you don’t need an excuse for the phone! I <3 gadgets; we’re allowed to get things that we want without justifying them to other people. (So long as we’re aware they’re not going to magically fix something in our lives… :P)

    “I think with any craft we can become obsessed with the tools, when really we’re just putting off the hardest part: starting.” – YES!

    Yes, ergonomics ARE a legit concern for modern day workers. My wrists can attest…