The Catch-22 of Writing

It is a truth universally known among writers: we need time and money to write. These things rarely show up together, and sometimes, even when they do, they don’t. The cliche of the poor writer up in a freezing attic isn’t entirely false. Overall, writers don’t make much, and poets starve.

My day job is teaching, and no–my life is not an object lesson in the old fallacy that says those who can do, and those who can’t teach. I can do both, and I do do both. One pays more, but it isn’t the most stable of arrangements. It comes in four-month blocks or it doesn’t, and those blocks sometimes aren’t set until the last minute.

In the mix of uncertainty, is the grant application, made months before the proposed project period. So, we cast our bread upon the waters and wait to see what happens. Fling that net as hard and far as we can and then clench every muscle we have waiting to see what it brings. Sometimes nothing.

But sometimes, teaching and grant both. I’m not crazy, so I’m not saying no to anything. If money comes, take it. Then, sit and stare at the calendar, wondering how to pluck some days and weeks for the writing. That is my current predicament. I’ll be able to pay the rent (hurray), and I have a deadline by which I must submit a report on the grant (eek).

It’s like pulling my fingers through a bowl of buttons, each button representing a day, looking for the buttons that have a WRITE symbol on them. If I can get enough of them in a row, I win. Writing is a gamble in so many ways. In every way.

What I know for certain is that there are thirty poems to get written. Thirty. It is ludicrous to think I can do that in two weeks in June. Ludicrous to think I can do that in all of June. But then, writing is nothing if not ludicrous.


Filed under On Reading

2 responses to “The Catch-22 of Writing

  1. dorgrease

    And are those two June weeks to be spent in Ireland? Or do you have some other lovely retreat location where you can concentrate? We must not consider starvation. Love, Doris

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