File under: quick thrills and writing drills
I write for a living and I write to live. These are two things. I get paid to write about resorts I've never visited or supplements I've never tried. I write about pet supplies and car repair and accountancy and active wear. As long as there is a word count, I am paid to provide.
And then I write because it's in the swing of my hip and the tip of my tongue. I write because I love how it feels: how, when you write, you never not touch things. I like how some words look and sound good together. I like how some words have aftertastes from afterthoughts. I like writing for no reason at all.
These are two worlds that hardly ever meet. There's the writing for the rest of the morning and the writing before I go to sleep.
Whenever I am introduced as a writer, I wonder what people think of. Am I the writer for publications or the writer who hears voices? I watch people's faces and I know the answer depending on how high their eyebrows go up. I laugh and get shy and murmur behind the laughter: Oh, I just have this blog. Then I meet people whose professions are so clear-cut: the maker of this, the studier of that, and I'm still half-guessing how I should take myself seriously when I write about things from my laptop at the oddest hours in my pajamas. No one needs to see me. All they need are my words.
I'm thinking of all of this because I don't know how to price my work. Clients often don't understand what writing really is. Should short be cheap? Does length affect the process of beginning and ending? Can I get paid for a blank page when I've spent days fixing this sentence in my head?
I don't know how other writers feel about this. I think I'm starting to hear voices. It's like thinking you know what a surfer is based on what you've seen from the lineup or close-up pictures from the beach. Then you see a drone shot like this and everything you thought you knew changes. Writers, surfers, human beings. We're all anchored to perspective.
Why so quiet, he asks, and I tell him I'm sorry, I'm just writing. He's used to these moments now. He no longer asks what I'm working on; instead, he waits until I show him. When I'm done, we read it together. I read aloud to him whether it's a review of the best bodyboarding fins on Amazon or a rare view of a random recollection. I don't know what he really thinks of my writing because we don't talk about it. All I know is he must think I'm good because he makes me check his emails and asks me for translations and sentence suggestions, and this makes my heart flutter because here was someone who trusted me with his thoughts so he didn't mind using some of my words for them.
-end of drills, good night-