I am pretty prolific writer, the kind that finishes multiple novel-length projects per year, but I can only write under certain conditions. Mostly, I just need to focus. I have an extraordinary ability to focus–it doesn’t need to be quiet, I don’t need an empty room, I just need people not to be actively demanding my attention. That’s it. And that’s pretty simple, but the thing is, it’s basically impossible for me to write at home.
I have an hour long commute into and out of work, and I work all day at my day job. I love my family, and I want to see them. They’re my family! They’re great. And they want my attention the second I walk through the door, and I want to give it to them. I’ve tried to write at home, but it’s just not going to happen when my two year old pats the back of my laptop and says, “close it, close it!” She’s only going to be two once; I can’t spend her childhood trapped behind a screen.
I was writing at work, but work has been hectic lately. It’s been like a sprint to quitting time every day the last month or so, which means there hasn’t been any extra downtime to write. Now, I don’t go out much. I don’t do much aside from a) hang with the family, b) go to work and then do work there or c) travel to and from work. My commute to work involves a 45 minute bus ride each way, which means:
I have been writing mostly on the bus. I write hunched up in uncomfortable seats with my too-big government issue work laptop. I write in the stop-start-stop-start lurch that makes a bus ride a bus ride, and I type away while tired, dusty construction workers glance at what I’m working on from the corner of his eye. The bus ride is a twice-daily period where I am crammed in close proximity to 50 strangers, and it’s also paradoxically the twice-daily period that counts as my alone time. It is loud, and it is hot, and it is smelly and I have no elbow room, but the bus is where I get my writing done. I am able to tune the bus and the people on it out and hack away at my fiction. When you’ve got a day job and two partners and a toddler, 45 solid minutes with only the most minimal obligations to those around you is a gift.