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  • Writer's pictureKristina Atkins

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Ack, no, I can’t lie. I love it! We got another good half foot of snow last night and it’s magical and white and perfect and snowy and cold and lovely. I grew up in the coastal Southeast, so snow is still fun for me (despite this being my 9th winter in the mountain west).

We just got back from a quick trip to Utah to see some of our favorite friends, and I had very little time for internetting, so I’m quite behind on my comments (as usual! I swear, this is the December of Slacking Off for me). At first when I signed up for the Deja Vu Blogfest, I thought, “Perfect! That’s when we drive to Utah so I’ll have a post all ready to go and I won’t need to worry about it the day before, so I can pack and clean!” What I didn’t think about were the comments/new visitors I would receive. SO. I’m sorry! I’m going to try to get caught up today and tomorrow, PROMISE!

TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY, I will give my graduating lecture. Holy moly. I’ve been working on my lecture the past few weeks, writing, doing yet more research (how is that possible?? It’s not fair!), and all that jazz. I wanted to get some quotes on character/setting development for my intro, so I turned to my craft books. While scanning Stephen King’s On Writing (it doesn’t have a table of contents! the only flaw to this book), I re-read the last section of his memoir part of the book. (The book is broken up into two sections: writing memoir, and notes on craft.) Somewhere during the book, he talked about how he always wanted a huge, really nice writing desk in the middle of a big office. In the last section, he touches on the desk, saying, “In 1981 I got the one I wanted and placed it in the middle of a spacious, skylight study … For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship’s captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.” He goes on to say that after he sobered up, he got rid of the desk and turned the office into more of a living space. He talks about how his wife helped him pick out the pieces, and how his children enjoyed hanging out with him in the evenings, watching TV and eating pizza. The large desk was replaced with a small desk, which he put in a corner under the eave. Then he concludes with this:

“That eave is very like the one I slept under in Durham, but there are no rats in the walls and no senile grandmother downstairs yelling for someone to feed Dick the horse. I’m sitting under it now, a fifty-three-year-old man with bad eyes, a gimp leg, and no hangover. I’m doing what I know how to do, and as well as I know how to do it. I came through all the stuff I told you about (and plenty more that I didn’t), and now I’m going to tell you as much as I can about the job. As promised, it won’t take long.

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

(First off–go read this book! It’s one of my favorite craft books, and I’m not even a Stephen King fan.)

I’ll admit I got a little teary-eyed when I read that last bit. As wonderful as writing is, it isn’t life. It shouldn’t be. It’s just a happy accident, a way we can make sense of it all, something we can get lost in for days, and we emerge tired, bleary-eyed, and fulfilled. But if we don’t emerge sometimes … well, we won’t have anything to write about. If we don’t write, we’ll survive. We’ll be fine.

So happy writing, and happy living.

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