Posted by: Sarah | August 4, 2009

Creative Writing in The Real World

What they don’t tell you in college creative writing classes….

Writing is wonderful. Creation with words, pure thought. To set down on paper ideas and imaginings, a totally different world, is a wonderful thing to be able to do. Creating a world that only you can see, communicating it to an audience as vividly and completely as possible. It is a joy to lose yourself in this world for as long as it takes to depict it. You strive to prove that although a picture is worth a thousand words, those thousand words bring you into the picture more completely than the picture can.

It’s Saturday, the day you’ve set aside for writing because you work all week.
The phone rings. It’s a telemarketer. Do you need better insurance/lower telephone rates/fresh socks? You hang up, but the moment is lost. You struggle; you close your eyes to try to recapture the wonderful city you’ve been describing. The dogs whine to go outside and you try to ignore them as they pant at you insistently, even scraping their claws down the paint on the door, and one just threw up on the carpet. You clean that up, and throw her out on the porch since she always throws up twice and find that in those brief seconds, one of the other dogs has excavated a good beginning on that backyard pool you’ve always wanted and the oldest dog is barking at a squirrel three houses away. You drag them all back inside and go back to the computer, struggling to remember where you were. Again, the eyes close and you walk through the front gates of that magical city and meet your main protagonist, but your husband comes in from working in the yard and asks, “How does the lawn look, dear?” and since he gets upset if you don’t look no matter how many times you’ve been interrupted already, you jump up and look outside, knocking the excited dogs out of the way to get to the window.

He goes to take a nap since it’s hotter than the backside of hell outside and he needs to recover from sweating through his clothes, you sit back down to the computer, thinking of your main protagonist and what you’re going to put her through to get her to save the world, when the dryer buzzes and you think about leaving the clothes in there. But your husband’s uniform shirts are in there and they need to be hung up right away or he’ll be late for work Monday because he’ll have to iron them. You do another load of laundry just for good measure.

You sit back down, ready to sink back into that world, but the dogs have had to go outside three more times and repeated the scenario above, except this time the cat threw up instead of the first dog. You finally sit back down and try to gather your thoughts and try to get back in your protagonist’s head and your husband gets up from his nap and is very affectionate, which is nice and ordinarily would make you want to drop everything to make love to him, but it’s late afternoon, the college student you’re renting a room to is sitting on the couch trying to ignore you both and you just got back into your protagonists head and were beginning to flesh out the relationship to the antagonist so, you rebuff your husband. He gets insulted and you spend the next half hour apologizing to him. He finally accepts your apology and you go back to work only to find that your thoughts are so scattered you can’t form a coherent sentence. And the cat jumps on your lap and walks on the keyboard demanding attention and types nonsense on your manuscript. And because your cursor was in the middle of your chapter while you were making some minor changes, he fills up a paragraph with gibberish and since he accidentally hit the “Insert” key, he replaces what you had just spent all day typing. You hurriedly hit “undo” and pray it works, which it does, but not before you’ve thrown the cat across the room onto the couch and you’ve had your panic attack for the day.
Fed up, you tell your husband that it’s a restaurant night. You go to the restaurant where all you talk about is your novel and how all you want to do is write, and your husband asks “Well, why don’t you just sit down and do it?” and you lack the words, an unusual occurrence, to tell him your frustrating day. So you change the subject. And order a margarita. Or two.

You go home, try to write some more, only to find that you can’t tie a coherent sentence together much less form a paragraph. So, you space out with a TV show, movie or video game depending on your degree of brain-dead-ness.

Monday rolls around. You haven’t gotten any writing done, but you hope your boss will be in meetings all day so you can focus on your novel. He’s not. On top of that, he’s got 20 urgent things for you to file/mail/overnight/fax/type before lunchtime. Your lunch-break rolls around and you seethe in resentment at having to give up your life to this job that pays nothing near what the work you’re doing is worth so that, again, you can’t focus on your novel so you try to spend your lunch break trying to get that knot out of your shoulders by relaxing. You go through the after-noon trying to play catch up and failing miserably. You make 101 mistakes that normally you wouldn’t make, but your novel won’t leave you alone and your protagonist is haunting you, tapping you on the shoulder and demanding your attention. The server crashes and you’re the only one who can take care of it. But everyone yells at you for the inconvenience of logging off their computers so that you can reboot the server so that those computers will run. Because you know, you planned this, just to piss off your co-workers. Oh, and they need five checks typed and in triplicate before close of business today.

You get on the bus, hoping for a chance to get some sleep while someone else drives since you got very little sleep last night because your antagonist gave you nightmares, again, tapping you on the shoulder and looming because you programmed him to be very good at looming. But it’s running late, it’s so crowded, its standing room only and you’re sitting next to someone who’s never heard of deodorant and spent the day digging ditches. You get off the bus, your nerves jangling, and hope you can work out before having to take care of dinner, but you get home and get changed only to find that you’re so tired, your limbs feel heavy so you feed the dogs and cats and yourself and your husband. You finally sit down for the night and try to focus your thoughts on your novel, but the dogs need to go outside before one of them throws up a pile of grass that you have no clue how she ingested on the carpet again. Your husband is glued to his computer screen playing a game with a group that does nothing but frustrate him so that he yells for you to get the dog throw up. Then snaps at you when you ask him to take care of her. It’s now 8pm and you have just enough energy to take off your makeup and try to lose yourself in a TV show where the protagonist of your novel isn’t shouting in your head.

He finally logs off the game and you gratefully cuddle on the couch with him, finally able to relax and he asks, “Did you write today?”

So, to answer my husband’s question, I don’t write more because I have a life.

*Not a lot of this is exact, some events have been altered to protect the innocents and the guilty.



  1. did you really just put that you hope your boss is in meetings so you can WRITE?

    um… maybe that’s why your filing is piling up…? lol

    • I actually wrote that a long time ago and just recycled it.

      We both know why my filing’s piled up.

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