This week Becca asks,
So, how about you? What do the three Pâ€™s of writingâ€¦practice, pleasure, profitâ€¦mean in your writing life?
First, let’s start with practice. . . this is what I do every day – at least five days a week, unless I”m not home. (That’s the break I give myself so that I don’t feel like I’m being selfish when I’m with friends). I get up every morning – feed the cats, make coffee, meditate, and then read a few pages from a writing book – right now, I’m reading Gayle Brandeis’ Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women who Write – and then journal for a bit. Then I write a “piece” – meaning I write through sometime that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That’s my practice – for better or worse. And when I do it well, I feel like I’ve done my “real work,” as Sven Birkerts said.
As for pleasure, I have to admit that I don’t take pleasure in writing the way I do in a hot soaking bath or a great piece of cheese or even a good movie. In writing, the pleasure comes from knowing I did what I was supposed to do. I know that when I do that everything else is bonus – my paying job included. The real part of life for me is in writing. There’s pleasure in that reality, even if the act of writing itself is sometimes more painful than pleasant.
Occasionally, I take real pleasure in the writing, mostly when I find myself remembering something I thought I had forgotten or when I write to something new about life or about myself. There are glimpses of pleasure in the practice.
Profit – that’s a tricky one. I don’t write as my day job – I teach to make my living. But I do hope someday to make writing my main source of income. However, that profit motive will never take the place of the practice – as long as I maintain a balanced approach to life. These days, after I finish my practice and check email, I often spend a few hours doing more of what I call “The Business of Writing,” where I prepare submissions, look at markets, consider academic publications, and revise my work from my practice if it looks like it might go somewhere. That’s the work of writing (and ironically, I actually take pleasure in that part most of the time) – but that’s not the writing for me. That writing is in the practice.
To sum up, for me, writing is practice. I take pleasure in doing it (or in having it done), just as I always did in just sitting and playing the piano, working through a hard run of notes, not because I was ever going to perform but because there’s joy in the doing, even if there is no product.
“Practice Must Go On” by Baklein62