Last week, I heard something in an interview with Cheryl Strayed that stopped me cold. I hit pause—Cheryl’s face frozen mid-sentence—and tried to regain my breath. I sat there for a few more beats before I decided it was best if I got up and moved around (I have a bad habit of sitting for periods far too long), so I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee—my third of the day, probably.
And then I finished watching the interview.
I’ve since watched plenty of Big Little Lies and read Hourglass (and half of Still Writing), not to mention worked plenty of hours, but I can’t get what Cheryl said out of my head. I fear I never will.
She’d said that she worked as a waitress, specifically, because it was something she could turn off at the end of the day. She didn’t have to take her work home with her. When she wasn’t waitressing, she was writing. There were no blurred lines.
My life is one big blur. I work in publishing, from my home office. My days are made up entirely of reading books, thinking about books, marketing books, helping authors, acquiring new authors, etc. And when the day is over (pretending that I can turn it off at 4pm), I try to then think about my own writing.
I love my job, I sincerely do, but there is no turning it off at the end of the day or over the weekend. And because I work from home there is no way I can’t take my work home with me.
So I worry. I worry that it’s not possible to focus on my own words with so many others’ in my head as well. I worry that, working from home, I’ll never achieve that separation that Cheryl spoke of. I worry that the struggle will always feel like it does right now: impossible.
I worry that I won’t figure out how to make it work.
Could it really be as simple as finding the perfect chair? The perfect routine? An ideal room in which to write? The ideal notebook? (These are all things I’ve read lately—because we writers are superstitious creatures, did you know?). Maybe I’m only the perfect pen and favorite coffee mug away from figuring it all out.
Wouldn’t that be great!