While many use this as an opportunity to vent their frustrations, I realized early on that if I keep posting about my own insecurities, these posts will start sounding very similar. So I decided to move away from "woe is me" and focus on motivation and encouragement, centering my IWSG posts on inspirational quotes from people I admire.
This month's quote comes from Burton Rascoe. Most well known as a literary editor for the New York Herald Tribune, Rascoe was renowned in the twenties and thirties, publishing several non-fiction books on authors and literary commentary throughout his life. Though I'm not sure where it originated, the following quote is attributed to him:
"What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window."
As most of you have come to know by now, I can be a veritable quote machine at times, but this one definitely ranks high on my all time favorites list. If we forgive the gender bias of the language Rascoe employed, I think this is one of those universal chunks of aphorism that make writers of nearly every size, shape, and genre say, Yes! Someone understands!
I've done a bit of preaching here and there on this blog about organization and work ethic. For the most part, I think I've made it clear that I believe writers should approach the craft as professionals if we want to be successful at this—that is, we should treat writing like a genuine profession, not some fleeting weekend hobby. And I absolutely believe that's true. The written word is serious business, and it demands equal parts ardor and diligence. But sometimes it's important to stop and remind ourselves that we're not punching the clock and filing into a cubicle when we write. We are engaging art, and damn it, sometimes that means staring out of a window. Sometimes it means closing your eyes and listening to music, or going for a walk at night and looking up at the moon. These aren't usually the kinds of things you can pencil into a work schedule, but they can do wonders when you let them.
It seems obvious, I know. Hell, it's practically a stereotype: the aspiring writer sitting on the edge of a pier with notepad in hand, staring off into the sun as it sets over the ocean. But usually this image is colored derisively, as though writers, poets, painters, and any other artsy-fartsy types are just slackers in disguise. That's what Rascoe was referring to with his generalizing jab at the spouses and partners of the writerly ilk. If you're not someone that spends the better part of your day chasing the muse, it might be difficult to understand how relaxing in a hammock, watching a good movie, or playing a mindless video game can contribute to anyone's 'work.' Most people do these things to escape demands and responsibilities, not to nurture creativity. But there's no reason you should feel bad for engaging in a little recreation and reflection from time to time. These moments really can grease the wheels of inspiration if you let them (and as long as you don't overdo it).
So the next time your better half catches you staring into the distance while you're supposed to be working, just direct them to Mr. Rascoe's words of wisdom. And better yet, don't be afraid to remind yourself to stop and listen to the churning of the universe every now and again between writing sessions. Hard work will always pay off in the end, but so will the occasional ruminative interlude.