What sort of things do writers do to keep at it, to get it done, to meet the deadline, to let the energy out? Today I’m wondering about the fine line between dedication and masochism.
It’s a degree below zero (fahrenheit) in Chicago today. My basement, where I normally work, is about 57 degrees, with a sharp cold radiating through the floor. My wife recently had the idea to put in all sorts of rugs, and they really do help. So does the electric blanket—her idea, also—I’ve draped over myself.
Of course, it’s warmer upstairs. I could sit by the window and look over the winter landscape and read a book. Or I could play with my son, build an even faster Hot Wheels track. Instead, I’m down here composing an essay about racism and cultural identity.
That’s what writing is, at least for me. It’s not a cup of coffee by a window overlooking a pastoral landscape. Maybe it is that for someone, but I never felt that way even when I could see the Danube outside my room. I suppose Madison County is not the only one with bridges, but I’ve never written in any similar county, or composed anything about those kinds of bridges, literal and metaphorical.
Today, an electric blanket and a half dozen candles meant to raise the temperature by up to a full degree, the one that separates dedication from masochism. Call it what you want. Let’s get to work.