My friend Betsy prays for prosperity every day. She asked me if I was trying to prosper through writing. “Yes,” shot out of my mouth like a reflex, because I knew she was talking about money. I didn’t want to sound like a dilettante. The truth is I don’t think about writing and money together. I focus on quiet and stillness and watching and listening. When I consider the money I could be earning, jobs that don’t tax the brain or jack your heart rate come to mind. I need my whole head and heart for writing and a wide circle of calm. Right now I work very part time tutoring girls in middle school, and I love them so much. Each one is extraordinary in very particular and interesting ways.
To compensate for my low income, our budget is slim, sorta. My husband and I share a car, but we really don’t need two cars. And truth be told we spend a ton on food. The lighting soothes at Whole Foods; nice colors too. I’ve divorced myself from fancy shoes, but I draw the line at J. Crew. Target fashion is pretty amazing. You should check it out. I clean our wooden floors on my hands and knees and don’t complain because it actually feels good to be close to the grain. I like seeing what’s going on under the cabinets and in the corners. Who knew a floor could be so dirty or that coffee could splash under, up and into cracks inside a cabinet base? I have the cutest feather duster and thoroughly enjoying waving it around the living room. Bathrooms are no joke. Never good.
For writing, I make a huge effort to clear my mind and absorb life as it unfolds with the sun. I look and listen for a moment when I can bond with a feeling so true that writing about it becomes a blessing. Something spiritually or emotionally useful unfolds when my mind is an empty room. When I succeed my soul prospers in ways I could never have imagined.
A quiet life is a heavy chore, especially when temptation is literally at your finger tips. My cell phone sits inches from my laptop, a thin, black block capable of enormous distraction. I read the New York Times on my cell phone, not my laptop or on paper. Text, text, texting with my cousins and children every day is a bit nuts. I really want to drown my phone which I almost did recently when I dropped it in a restaurant toilet–because it’s perpetually in my back pocket.
There are plenty of other distractions, many of which I can avoid if I’m diligent. I got a concussion about five weeks ago. I’ve been flat on my back most of the time since. The smack in the head made me a touch hypomanic which has been a boon for writing. I’m paying close attention to my mood because it’s something you shouldn’t toy with. People with bipolar illness have to measure their emotional barometers carefully. Otherwise you can cast off course for months.
So far, so good. I’m standing in my canoe, balancing, and then sitting down to write, write, write. Got my oar!