Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Home's Where Writing and the Job Are

It's been four months now since I started working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I've become accustomed to the routine of both working and writing from home. The experience takes me back many years to periods before I had my current job or a family and could work part-time to get by.  I did have to leave the house to work, but since I worked part-time, I had ample time to get a lot of writing done at home. That's not the same as being able to only write to make a living, but it's as close as I've ever been able to get to that.  Now I find myself in a similar situation, and in terms of writing alone, if I can, at least in the abstract, forget about the reason why this situation developed, it's been great.  The small percentage of writers who don't have to support themselves by leaving their house to go to a job really should never complain.  Writing well is hard regardless of your circumstances, but nothing beats having the means or set-up to be at home on a daily basis, day after day, without the need to leave, and just get your writing done.    

What is it exactly that's so good about this?  Since I do still have my regular job to do (and thank goodness for that), it's not as if I have way more time now to write than during normal conditions.  I don't have my 45-minute subway commute to and from the office each day, true, and that's nothing I mourn losing, but beyond that, my work responsibilities are the same now as they were pre-Covid.  No, what's great about the work at home and write at home model is that you don't have to switch gears every day.  Every day when commuting I either wake early to write before going to work or go to work and then come home to write at night.  I try writing early most days, but I do vary the routine.  And that applies as well now. I write either before or after the long chunk of the day that is devoted to my job.  Sometimes I write in the early morning, do my job through the day, and write a little bit again at night.  But whatever writing routine I follow, the main thing is that mentally I stay in the story I'm working on so easily.  Teleworking, including Microsoft Team meetings, doesn't pull me away from writing mentally in the way that the daily office grind can.  I write, do my job, write, do my job, write, do my job -- all in a kind of continual flow (with movies and phone calls and house life in there as well, of course). There's something about just not having to uproot oneself and live two lives, as it were, one at home where you write and one in the office where you work, that I find pleasing and very conducive to writing.  It would have been nice if such an arrangement had happened without a worldwide pandemic breaking out, but that is what happened, and the unexpected consequence has been the situation I've described.  

Footnote: I don't have small kids, which I have to assume helps me here.

Anyhow, one day, soon I hope (though that's doubtful the way things are going), this pandemic period will be over.  And life will go back to something akin to the way it was before the pandemic hit.  But I'm wondering.  Will it ever be possible again to attain a life -- without a plague being involved -- that is so good for writing as the one now? Retirement, I suppose, but that's a long way off and seems an utter pipe dream at this point.  And to discuss even the mere possibility of retirement means talking about the US economy, student loan debt, and myriad other depressing factors that merit a whole nother discussion.

That's all right then.  I'll stop here.  Have to get to my job, right here at home.

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