After finishing a draft of a story, some authors put the story in a drawer so that, when enough time has passed, they can pull it out and look at it with fresh eyes. In an example of life imitating art, for the past year my life has been a draft of a story sitting in a drawer, waiting to be taken out.
When I graduated with my undergraduate degree I had a plan—I was going to move to Maine and get an MFA in creative writing. The plan took awhile (four and a half years) but I stuck to my goal and had miniatures goals along the way to keep me focused (i.e. 1) get in to grad school, 2) make a living, 3) adopt a greyhound).
Then, I stopped having goals. I had gotten into grad school and had a full time job and adopted my awesome dog Page. Instead of making goals I had nebulous wishes without a semblance of a timeline. I decided I would be a writer, which is like saying I’m converting to Catholicism—it’s not a goal, it’s a practice.
I threw myself into the decision to be a writer. I lived off my savings and took up in the basement of my boyfriend’s parents’ house. And I wrote. I wrote a novel, then revised it, in the meanwhile trying to fill my time with odd jobs to stave off a negative bank account balance.
During “the year in the basement” I wrote, but I can’t say for certain if I’ve really been living. I barely cook for myself and hardly ever go out (when you move to a new city and spend most of your days at home it’s difficult to meet people). Even my living space isn’t really my own. The paint on the walls of my office was left from where the room had once functioned as a nursery, and there’s still a white piece of paper taped to the door from where the teenage version of my boyfriend had created a nameplate (complete with pencil shaded lightning bolts).
When I was a psych major, before I became a writer, I was introduced to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While living this hyper-simplified life, I’ve been wondering where I would fall on the pyramid.
My basic level one and level two needs are met—I have shelter, I’m fed—but I’m not providing for myself anymore. As an adult, who had been able to do this for herself for the past four years, it feels wrong to not be doing this anymore.
I have to think that maybe this past year served some greater purpose–that during the previous four years I had been writing the story of my life and I finished volume one. I put that story in a drawer and waited until I could look at it again with fresh eyes. Coming up on a year since I put the story of my life away, (and ironically at the same time as I’m putting my own novel away,) I think it’s time to get out of the basement and put some words down on a new draft of my life.