Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to be a Poor Writer in New York

"But this was how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy."
Earnest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I'm currently sitting on the toilet and scribbling in my journal. This is one of the best places to write when one is poor and living in New York. One of the best of many places to write. I've discovered that I have to incorporate my writing with many other activities that I used to do sans writing. I won't give you a description of my current setting, but it is a prime example.

When one is poor and in New York an entire world opens up before you. And when you desire to write, the possibilities of influence, inspiration, and location are endless.

A brief bare bones account of a day in the life of a freelance proofreader/wannabe writer is as follows:

The day begins at 5 a.m.. I roll off of my futon and voila I'm at my desk, or my armoire that Mrs. Okie and I have converted into a closet/desk. I write for an hour and a half; then smoke a cigarette, take a shower, eat a granola bar, and hit the streets (Mrs. Okie is a sweetheart and actually wakes up around 6:30 to pack my lunch when I'm in the shower).

Instead of reading a paper on my morning commute, I grab my journal and scribble horrible penmanship across its pages as the train jostles and the groggy 9-to-5ers crowd the car, swaying to a fro. The commute is around 20 minutes and I can write for about 15 of those.

Off the subway, I walk five blocks to work, clock in, and sit at my table. Rather than staring into space or surfing the net for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the workload, I open up my story, which I've saved to Google Documents for easy, anywhere access, and hammer away until my first proofing job comes in.

Lunch breaks are wonderful. I have to cut mine short to capitalize on my time on the clock, but I can scarf my sandwich, chips, and apple and get a good 20 to 27 minutes of writing.

And if there are any lulls in the work, I can always break Google Docs back open.

After I clock out, I still have the 20 minute commute home to look forward to. And after eating, talking to Mrs. Okie, running any errands (laundry, shopping, bank, apt. cleaning, etc.), I can still get an hour in before I go to bed at around midnight.

This schedule works great when I have a consistent freelance proofing schedule. When I don't, It's all turned on its head and I write on the toilet as I'm doing now. But anyone can write and write a lot if he simply substitutes writing for every other stimulus in his life, other than time with his wife.

Who needs movies, exercise, theater, Central Park, reading, etc. when you can write? Obviously this life style has it's draw-backs, but if you put the pen and paper down long enough to notice the leaves change, the toddler with under-developed motor skills who has just plunged ice-cream into his eye socket, the darkening of clothes on the pedestrians with the coming cold, and the way you're wife looks cuddled under the blankets with the blue glow of the computer screen covering her face, then you can lay the other things aside and focus on your work and writing until you have enough money to take her out to a decent dinner.


  1. Continue and Continue... Keep feeding that knawing thing that is growing in your belly.

  2. Heya,

    I really like your writing style... it has wonderful beat overtones...

    I too am WAY behind in my word count -- in retrospect, this may not have been the best month for me to do this "challenge" and I most likely will not finish in the next six days BUT it's been a terrific growing experience for me none the less. Also, I'm very pleased with what I've written so far. It seems fairly solid.

    Anyway, thank you for the awesome feedback... I will still be posting excerpts here and there as I plan to just keep on going at this pace until I finish, because that is my main goal -- finishing.

    Let's definately keep in touch through the rest of this project and beyond.

    Good luck and happy writing!

  3. I love it! And if anybody could make NYC sound more tempting that San Francisco, it's you.

    Also: I love your writing style. I know a good writer when--after reading him--my own style is affected. And your writing affects me in a major way.

    I can't wait to see what you've written. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

    And tell Mrs. Okie that I love her and I miss her and to pack ME one of those lunches sometime. ;)

  4. you are a real writer.
    and living in NYC.


    (that's a jealous sigh, by the way)

  5. this is lovely. i am laughing out loud as I think about how you can indeed write in all the blank spots in your life. you are inspiring.


  6. I really like this one.