As I write this, I’m listening to Santogold, writing a curriculum for a youth workshop for 826-LA, reading Barbara Jane Reyes’ blog, searching for an affordable apartment, a decent-paying job and watching my green tea grow cold.
Always, ALWAYS, I’m thinking about writing. No, it’s not the same thing as writing itself, but at least it’s on my mind, right?
I recently heard about this book called Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life by Winifred Gallagher, but haven’t read it yet. It seems like a good idea; using your full, undivided attention to get what you want in life.
Here’s an interesting excerpt from Amazon:
“Since writing Rapt, I’ve come to believe that we now face a fundamental psychological challenge of a different sort: How to balance your need to know—for the first time in history, fed by a bottomless spring of electronic information, from e-mail to Wikipedia–with your need to be? To think your thoughts, enjoy your companions, and do your work (to say nothing of staring into a fire or gazing dreamily at the sky) without interruption from beeps, vibrations, and flashing lights? Or perhaps worse, from the nagging sense that when you’re off the grid, you’re somehow missing out?”
I find myself almost always finding out about breaking news late. My cheap Target cellphone doesn’t have a fancy touchpad that requires thumb-to-index action nor does it instantly update me through a newsfeed. I was probably the last person to find out that Michael Jackson died (two hours later!) while visiting NYC (one of the densest cities in the world. Why didn’t I hear people yelling it out on the street?). However, the internet distracts me. Maybe it’s more than distraction. I feel as though I’m receiving the breadth of what’s going on in the world, rather than any sort of depth.
How do writers and poets and artists who constantly promote themselves, their work, the work of their artist-poet-writer friends, submit their work, WHILE doing the ACTUAL work? AND obviously live, maintain relationships, make money, and the rest of it.
At every Author Evening we had through our fellowship, one of the EV Fellows, Marissa, always asks: what is your schedule like? And gleaning from the responses, I know that there isn’t one way to do things, to live an artist life.
How do you do this though, when you’re broke as hell, and it’s NOT Paris or New York in the 1930s, but Los Angeles in 2009? City of fame and poverty. City of highrises on Wilshire Corridor and cardboard communities in Downtown.
How do you create your focus and balance in a city that embodies the complete opposite?