Any writer you might talk to in regards to the art of writing, and when asked “How do I know if I’m a writer?” Or a question along the lines of-, within their response, somewhere, and usually as upfront as possible, they’ll admit that, “If you cannot get through a day without writing, and if not does the act of writing linger above you like the alcoholics cloud of desperate clarity?—if you feel it, as a haze behind your eyes: when you lack concentration, and the appetite to live—if writing intrigues your senses to the point of definition, then you are a writer. And if this is not the case, don’t worry, you are not.” The fact is that writers have the unique recognition of their life’s calling, it’s unmistakable. And, in that way, a writer is fortunate to never be within the constant agonizing uncertainty of destiny, however a writer it equally as unfortunate to always be inquiring, and to never be completely contented. A writer remains apart from the search for understanding (destiny) and the fulfillment of fate.
At different points of my life I have written differently: where I would write, how I would write, the routine—which is important, for different reasons, depending—changed, a little. Once I realized I wouldn’t complete my first novel and that I would, essentially, be writing endlessly to no end, and that I would need to, instead, chop it up into pieces of itself, rewriting and recreating it, and eventually selling it as a series of short stories I could only write at night, after the sun had gone, and the world around me felt still. I was living in Salt Lake City then, and would look out over the valley where the city rest, and the world seemed peaceful.
A couple of years later, in New York City, I wrote on park benches, in parks: Washington Square Park, Central Park, Madison Square Park et al, and in a notebook: pen-on-paper. I could not write otherwise. The notebook would always be with me, in my back left jean pocket, the only item I would carry on my person, and not in my bag, just in case. I would put pieces of stories together later on my laptop, however my creativity was stirred only when I felt the pressure of the notebook pressing back against my pen. The notebook always felt so resolute, unyielding and as the ink bled on the paper I was in awe by the act of creation. As the notebook began to give life, a life that would flow through me, from elsewhere, and demand entrance into the perceivable while sitting on benches in the Deep Woods northwards in Central Park.
In Santa Fe I would always have to be around people, writing in café’s, and it was usually in one of the following: Iconik Coffee, Aztec café, or Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café. I was never able to write anywhere else, I would try, of course, say at Station Café next to the train depot for example, and yet I would sit, only and stare at a table, or through the window as the Rail Runner slowly skated to a stop. I remember even still sitting outside of Station staring at a small pile of cement, chipped pieces scattered, and a small crater the pieces had once filled on the front patio. At Iconic I used to look forward to getting lost in the developing fantasy behind my eyes, I wouldn’t be looking over a notebook or my laptop, but instead into my imagination as if replaying a memory projected for me by will alone. Aztec itself was inspiration, the place stimulating my delusions like walking through your childhood home so much later in life that you were certain all recognition was lost, but realizing, almost instantly that a part of you is still there. At Annapurna’s I could see the snowcapped mountains in June as the world itself would envelop me like a children curious of a wayfarer. I would sit sometimes at Marble Brewery overlooking the plaza and I would write, but it wasn’t the same.
My first year back in Boerne, after opening Wardrobe Books, every morning after visiting the bookstore, I would go to Starbucks, order a drink, and sit in one of two chairs, if I wasn’t sitting in either chair I wasn’t able to focus. And that might be perhaps because I was too focused on whomever was in either chair standing up to leave, and me taking their place. I was there every day, and while there I tried to order something different to drink every day, often coming up with strange combinations of flavors, or whatever I could fathom. I would sit, and for hours I wrote. I both started and finished my first novel sitting at the Starbucks in Boerne, Texas. I remember finishing it. There was a girl sitting across the room from me, I knew her, she worked there, and on that particular day she was there studying or something, I don’t know, I just looked up and she was there. It’s been more than two years since that day but I can still picture her exactly as she was, her pale blue eyes were so piercing. I’ll never forget. The thought of her eyes lingered in my mind as I finished writing the last sentence, of the last paragraph of the first novel that I would write.
Since that day, after finishing my novel, Between Transitions, I have developed a more practical approach to writing, at least, for someone living an actual life, with friends and family and responsibilities and expectations: my laptop is open all day, and every day to a WORD document, whatever it is that I might be currently working on, and I sit down periodically to write. Every time I sit down, I have to write for at least five minutes. Of course, I find that every time I sit down I write for considerably longer than five minutes, and yet not allowing myself to get up before then has become a contract with myself that feels, to me, like I have graduated from a place of desperation, and fearful artistry. It’s the difference, to me, between a starving artist and a seasoned one. One thing that I have learned is that the circumstance for our creativity changes over time, and with experience and the only constant is that you are writing, whether you’re writing from a place of intention and emotion and feeling or you’re simply writing for the sake of writing. We write because we have to, not to feel accomplished or to accomplish, and not to be proven or to prove, we write because of what we are from a place deeper than most of us are willing to look.
I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.