Installment # 10: Chloe and Fran discuss their writing schedules and being in withdrawal from each other.
As I write, this my lunch break is coming up. I’ve been at the computer for four hours as I do each morning except for Saturdays and Sundays.
Writing advice annoys me. At the end of the glamorized articles there is no creative way to come to writing except for sitting in a chair at a desk. (Although, people have standing desks now—Julie at Catapult has one but told me she can only do email at it, she can’t really write). Writing looks incredibly boring to other people; to my roommate for example who walks by me to pee and make eggs and shower each morning, a dozen times. She leaves me alone.
You and I just spent a lot of time together in Portland. We took hikes, went to yoga, and ate dinners and lunches together. Then I got back to NY and we were both quiet for a couple of weeks. We talked on the phone the other night and it turned out we’ve both been keeping “bankers hours” as you put it.
I am finishing up my essay collection while you are embarking on a new creative nonfiction book.
If I’m having a work week, this is what it looks like:
If I don’t get to the desk between 7 and 9a.m., I am fucked. If I get to the desk between 9 and 10, I can still get some hours in but I berate myself for not starting earlier. Around noon or 1p.m., I eat eggs and greens or yogurt and fruit and shower. Then I work more until 3 or 4. At 3 or 4, I do errands, which is usually the post office (mailing books or checks), the bank (depositing checks), and a few groceries (half & half, eggs, honey) and then I take a walk until 6p.m. Then I clean my room, make dinner, (rice and beans or omelet or salad with protein) pour a glass of wine I stole from my dad’s loft, watch an indie movie or read a book. I go to bed at between ten and eleven. I go to yoga on Saturdays and Sundays and read.
I basically wake up feeling like a million bucks and am stoked from seven to 11a.m. and then it’s all downhill and I become miserable.
It is hard to see my progress, because I am too far into it. I moved a dozen sentences. I added half a dozen paragraphs. I changed an ending. I added a scene. I added a joke. I fleshed out an anecdote. I changed a title. I changed some names. I consider one essay done and one needs to be completely changed.
You write at cafes more than I do, and you have a kid. What does your workweek look like when you’re having one?
We were dying last week, because as much as we are in different places in terms of what we are working on, we were in such a similar headspace when we got on the phone on Friday to yack. It seemed like we were both having a hard time feeling like we have been making decent progress or as I like to say, we were getting in our own ways, bumping into ourselves. I think this has a shit-ton to do with that fucking inner-critic moron that lurks in our workspaces and tries to make us feel like crap. You’re not doing enough. What you’re working on sucks dick. You suck dick. You wish you sucked better dick. You should do more. You should be more productive.
And my personal favorite……Nobody cares about this shit that you are writing about, you douchebag dick sucker!
After our conversation, you wrote me and said that you wished we lived in the same city. I feel the same way, I feel like we have so much to offer each other in terms of support around this grunt-work. But at the same time, I know that we can be a distraction to each other, drinking coffee and analyzing shit instead of producing work, so maybe right now in order to get to where we both need to be, it’s a blessing to have this distance between us. It was great to have you here, though. I had a blast cruising around this ridiculous bubble that is Portland with you again.
You’re family really. And I do think we were quiet for a few weeks because we missed each other, lol!
I think my favorite moment was when we were at that mountain cabin and Karina was crashed out at like nine o clock and we were buzzed on wine and we put on Lost in Translation and I was excited like a kid about to watch Jaws or some shit. You had taken a melatonin and then right before the karaoke scene, the fucking epic climax of the movie, you went to bed. You said you’re knees were buckling as they do when you take that shit, but then you were in your bed downstairs and you heard the karaoke scene and got jealous. I was like, You should have come back up. I would have been jealous too, that scene kills.
I love when Bill Murray is about to sing ‘More Than This’ and gets all serious and says, This is really hard…..
I could feel at the time
There was no way of knowing….
And so now you’re back upstate and I’m still in Portland and it’s back to fucking work. We did speak the other day about how we both try to keep “banker’s hours” and how our clocks are similar. My sched is a little different than yours because I do have that kid and so I need to pick him up at three, so my day gets a little jacked. I’m not ready to stop working at three and so I’m on the playground like a caffeinated freak zombie and all these parents are all stoked to see their kids and I’m in the corner with my head down wearing a fucking jean jacket, still spinning from the shit that I am working on, still processing really. I start my day around nine as well, after my guys are the fuck out of my grill and then I sweep and tidy up and walk the dogs and I think about what I want to accomplish. I plan out a yoga class for midday and then I generally work a few work sessions around that. I definitely obsess over food and like you, I eat yogurt and fruit and eggs and greens and I can also beat myself up over that shit, similar to the writing. You are right, one work session is usually at a café, because it helps me to be around people to get things going and then another session is in my studio at the house, where I often fall into myself and try to fight off the inner critic like a gangsta. This goes on during the week. On weekends, I do not feel compelled to produce work per se but I often work through some shit in my head and connect back to how I am feeling about what I worked on during the week prior.
No matter what, so much about what we do involves tons of existential struggle and a constant will to keep fighting. It’s hard work. And I think we both have really strong work ethics and we both crave structure in our lives so we fight hard to build that for ourselves. Because, like Bill Murray sang so well and with such emotion and passion…..
More than this, you know there is nothing
More than this, tell me one thing
More than this, there is nothing
Okay so we went upstairs and got under the covers of the bed you were gonna sleep in and put in Lost In Translation. You jumped out of the bed to go to the bathroom and you were like, wrapped in a blanket or a robe and you exclaimed, “I’M SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!!!” and then booked it down the stairs to pee.
I think we missed each other too–I had to adjust to not hanging out with you every day again, it sucked.
I beat myself up over food too–like, “You’re gonna get fat from sitting and writing all day you better eat 2 eggs, not 3…..”
Here’s something I noticed with my books and you’re probably feeling this way too: No one gives a shit about your books until they’re published. Unless they’re also writers actively writing books, then they do. Other people don’t.
When Women came out, my mom said to me at one point, When did you write this?
I was like, uhhh, every fucking day for hours for the last 14 months.
But no one sees the hours you put in, so it’s lonely, lonely, lonely….
Also, it’s lonely because if you tell people you’re working hard it’s sort of hard to explain and if you always talk about what you’re working on, you sound like an asshole….on your porch in Portland we were saying we both write every day but you can’t talk about it, kind of like Fight Club. You also said you get annoyed when people write about “journaling.”
Anyway, last night you ate a tiny bit of a pot cookie. I hit the wine a little and watched Silver Linings Playbook. I check the fuck out of my head at night.
If you went to the hotel that Lost In Translation was filmed at, what would you do?
My fucking goal in life is to hole up in that hotel in Lost in Translation. It’s the Park Hyatt Tokyo I believe and it’s like seven hundo a night. Some of my favorite memoires in life have been holing up alone at rad hotels in killer cities. It’s so humbling and interesting in ways that are almost hard to explain. So I would probably spend a lot of time at that hotel reading and writing and checking shit out in the common areas and I would probably not do a lot of touring around Tokyo, because I am a dick like that……
I was supposed to be at The Jane hotel right now exactly, literally today but I cancelled my East Coast trip because I don’t have a ton of energy for my family and travel at this point. My nerves have been too shot. Now I feel sad thinking that I could be at The Jane sipping coffee and thinking about what amazing movie I could see today, fuck!
Instead, I’m in my writing studio hoping that I don’t have to face a ton of inner conflict with myself today, feeling a bit like shit because I ate a third of that stupid pot cookie and was up late freaking out in my bed because it was made with the hyper pot.