• Shana Ritter

At the desk…….

Funny, how the fall colors of the trees seem so much richer against the graying sky. It rained all morning and I was glad for a reason to stay inside. On those crisp blue skied autumn days it feels like there is no excuse not to be outside walking, shuffling leaves with my feet.Which means I am not at my desk writing.

While I think walking feeds the writing, I need the cold, the rain, the inclemency of a day to push me into sitting for long enough stretches to let my voice fall into the deeper reaches. How much of a writer’s day is actually at the keyboard, or with a notebook and pen in hand, and how much is readying the mind, the ear, the senses to be able to capture on paper the more amorphous lines that hold story or poem together?

The actual writing of a thing is done alone at a desk, or a table. But there is all the other pieces of the job – the gathering, the processing, the imaging that takes place all the time. How do I discern punching the writer’s clock? Is it by output, by quality, by deepening the work?  By readings, by pieces published, certainly not by dollars earned?

I can’t compare it to the work I’ve done in schools, or even the research based articles I’ve written –those have more linear measures. It’s a little like parenting – the hours spent watching a child sleep, all the times you wake in the night thinking you hear something. And yet like parenting you have to put in the time, with the child, and with the page- just the two of you creating story.

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