“We all want the stuff that’s found in our wildest dreams.”– Sheila E., song: Love Bizarre
I find that mentally, I’m usually anywhere except the present. Future, mostly. I do a lot
All I need in this life of sin is me and my ink pen.
of “wildest dreams” thinking. The kind of thinking that’s just beyond the lip of rampant daydreaming.
The stallions REALLY run free there.
And I’m not necessarily talking about a wildest dreams “fuck you, pay me” salary that makes college not seem like a massive waste of time, or even the kind of juicy, wildest dreams “fuck up some kitchens, yeah” dicking-down found in the most titillating erotica. It’s not the house (a spacious loft like Nina Moseley’s in “Love Jones”, by the way). It’s not the car (my beloved cranberry 2007 Saturn Ion, by the way–miss you, Beckett!). Although all of those things have a place in this swirl of Technicolor visualization.
In particular, I project my active imagination onto what it would be like to write with pleasure and discipline…like, full time. Making a living off my words. My stories. What does that kind of cliff-jumping look like?
I mean, I know it can be done, because I follow some phenomenal wordcatchers on Twitter.
Here’s what I do know: I would like the kind of Writing Life that has enough breathing room for the stability of a day job I do love AND an active creative life that I also make good money from. This is what the “all” in “having it all” looks like to me.
But what does The Writing Life look like for one indigo darling?
It looks like…it always looks like me at a window. Or a balcony. I’m always up high. Elevated and observing, rather than participating, which I think is very telling somehow.
It looks like me living near a beach.
It looks like me living in Tampa, Houston or San Diego. (Not that I need to be in these particular places to be productive, but these are locations that call to me.)
It looks like maybe 1 published work every 2-3 years or so?
It looks like at least a couple of completed, sold screenplays.
It looks like eventually not going to a 9 to 5 every day and still being stable and financially comfortable. I don’t have a figure in mind, just a certain amount of ease I’d like to enjoy so I can maybe make things just a bit easier for the people I care about, without overextending.
It looks like quality, relateable, well-written work that appeals to Black women in particular.
It looks like me helping other writers of color, either by helping them promote their work, or providing insight to help them on their journey…just offering what I can in a way that best fits my talents and gifts. I am not sure yet if this means starting my own publishing company at some point.
I don’t know if it looks like me self publishing or going the traditional route.
It looks like me having the words I need to tell whatever stories I need to tell.
It looks like me writing daily, with discipline, on a schedule, with clearly defined daily goals.
It looks like me knowing the right people, having a tribe of wild women with a rich array of perspectives and personalities. (Happy to report this foundation is already being laid!)
It looks like exploration– a door to experiences I’ve never had before.
It looks like travel. When I feel like it.
It looks like me inviting in sensual, sexual energy– the good, rich, lush kind.
It looks like me experimenting– hopefully successfully– with different forms and genres.
It looks like me collaborating with like-minded people who provide just enough of the kind of tension that’s needed for constant creative evolution.
It looks like me getting up every day and WANTING to create with consistent productivity.
It looks like me managing my time, money and resources well.
It looks like creating with a clear head and a healthy strong body.
It looks like balanced days: work I love…play I love…self-care.
It looks like as many of the right “yeses” and “nos” as can be managed.
It looks like FUN.
It looks at least a little sexy from time to time.
It looks like working from home– in matching jammies, or a super cute “Olivia Pope casual” outfit: tank top, leggings, oversize cardigan. Writer chic.
It looks like a thick skin and effective stress management.
It looks like happy solitude.
It looks like doing what I want, after years of doing what I gotta.
You’ll notice that many of these are components for a good life in general, not just for a writer. But that’s just it, isn’t it? In order to create well, there’s a core of balance, of healthy habits we have to establish so the channel is clear and we are open to well, ourselves. And to the stories inside us. And to the characters who need to use us, consume us a little…possess us, if necessary.
I am a long way from this Writing Life. It’s the new normal I seek and I know it will be a very slow crawl. I expect it to shift and morph. I expect the more nebulous desires to take shape. I expect the possibility that some of the more concrete ones might shed themselves. I expect the possibility I might forcefully jettison others.
But I see it. That will have to do for now.
Whatever your version is, I hope you see it, too.
If you are living it, I hope you are doing it lustily. Boldly. May you never tame the beast.