The most common question I'm asked is: How does a writer spend their day?
I'm never sure how to answer.
So I decided to keep a diary for one day.
A day in the life of a writer:
7:48 a.m. I'm not fully awake but alert enough to know I'm uncomfortably cold. I have vague recollections of birds chirping since dawn. I must have left the window open again. I've done that three nights in a row.
8:21 a.m. I'm a self-taught (serial) cereal mixologist. I've been combining morning cereals for years now and I'm very, very good at it. The result is a much superior interbreed. Mini-Wheats are my frosted base. I get inventive by adding frozen berries, whole almonds and at least two other cereals.
8:43 a.m. (coffee brewing)
8:52 a.m. I'm anticipating productivity. I have the entire day cleared of other work, responsibilities and commitments. Today I'm a professional writer working on a book! Today I have time for a second cup of coffee.
9:02 a.m. And then I'll just read the newspaper...
9:21 a.m. ...and this New Yorker, which I've been meaning to read for months...
10:09 a.m. ...and maybe this Moroccan cookbook.
10:23 a.m. I've made it to my desk with a third cup. I'm only five or six sips in and I already have a handful of new sentences living in (what five minutes ago) was a blank document. I'm biased, sure, but these sentences are very strong. They aren't normal in any sense of the word. These sentences are exceptional.
10:42 a.m. I've bought new shoes for the first time in years. My new shoes are brown. Or some shade between brown and crimson. I'm examining them now. I like them enough. My only complaint is the dye has been staining my socks. Sometimes I wear white athletic socks and my new shoes have defiled several pairs. What really upsets me is that even though I don't go barefoot in the shoes, I conceivably could, and then the dye would be getting all over my feet. Would it stain my skin? What if the dye is toxic?
10:56 a.m. I'm on the phone. It didn't take too long to find the number for the shoe manufacturer online. I've reported my dissatisfaction. The fellow reassures me this complaint is rare and that the dye should stop running in a couple weeks of further use. He says nothing about toxicity.
11:33 a.m. I've moved to the floor. My lower back was getting stiff from slouching at my desk. I've swapped my slippers for a pair of already ruined socks and my new shoes. I'm hoping to hurry the process of the running dye by wearing them inside. I'm also engaged in that pro-back stretch where you pull your knees into your belly.
12:01 p.m. I ate some soup and crackers at my desk while re-reading those sentences. And they're fine. I consider them cutting-edge sentences that might just need to be tepidly tweaked.
1:50 p.m. It takes a moment to break my musing and realize my phone is vibrating. It's my mom. We chat about three articles she's cut out of the paper for me. She tells me about the dinner she's making for her and my dad. I tell her about the frozen perogies that I'm genuinely looking forward to. We talk about the weather and the tenability of mom's telepathic theories.
3:07 p.m. I'm hungry. I can't last until tea time (4:00 PM). I rummage around my cupboards for some Chewy Chips Ahoy I know I don't have. I find a single underwhelming clementine in my crisper . I'm able to peel it in one piece. I'm amazed with myself, truly. This almost never happens!
4:00 p.m. I set the kettle to boil and drop a tea bag into the pot. Going through this routine every day at the same time makes me feel older than my 31 years. At some point, like right now, I usually look down at my feet and think about my plaid slippers and how they are the slippers of an old man. An old man who makes tea every day at the same time. An old man with a sore back and grievously dyed socks.
4:49 p.m. I'm on the floor (again) watching/listening to Chet Baker YouTube videos. I wonder if Margaret Atwood would want to make a cooking video with me? We could toss it up on YouTube. People like cooking shows. And people definitely like Margaret Atwood. I should think about writing her an e-mail. I wonder if my editor has her contact?
7:12 p.m. I must have fallen asleep for a bit there. I've just discovered I don't have any perogies left. I do have half a bottle of white wine.
7:35 p.m. New aphorism: A peanut butter on white toast supper is made up of equal parts delicious and dreary.
9:15 p.m. I make popcorn a few nights a week . While it's popping I take a couple backward steps until my back is against the long skinny handle on the fridge. If I lean at a certain angle and with adequate force while slowly swaying side to side it's reminiscent of the one professional massage I've ever had. At least it's close. Not really close, I guess, but not entirely different. Actually, it's quite different. After about 30 seconds or so it's tolerably uncomfortable. Popcorn's ready!
11:08 p.m. It upsets me every night when I crawl into bed. I have three pillows but only one is comfortable. It's a preposterous ratio. If I have three pillows all three should be comfortable. It should be a 1:1 ratio. My pillows only have one job, to cushion and support my tired brain.
11:54 p.m. I can't fall asleep. I can't recall which of the pillows is the one I like and I think I'm using a crappy one. I'm committed to other work for the rest of the week so maybe I should just get up and do some more writing while I can. Or get up to delete what I wrote. Those sentences are embarrassing. They're not even proper sentences, nor are they original or interesting thoughts. They are words, cloyingly innocent and childlike words, strung together to form a few confusing platitudes. There's no way they can be salvaged, only deleted. I want to print them off just so I can tear the paper into tiny pieces.
11:55 p.m. At least it's comfortable in here. I've left the window open.