On Being a Writer, Full-Time Student, and a Full-Time Worker

by Mushra


School starts in just 4 days. I have all 9 of my books for my three classes. Being an English major, I expect to be reading and writing an awful lot, so much so that I probably will be the grouchiest this semester and have absolutely not social life or money. I may as well stock up on the ramen right now, but only the good stuff, the big packs of it from H-mart. Sake too. Lord knows I’ll be needing some of that sweet peach sake to get me through some of the longer night, and I’ll definitely need to invest in some kind of coffee machine that makes good coffee for the early morning I’m going to be having. I’ve got my back pack all nice and packed, my laptop is behaving again, and I’m spending my last few days of freedom with my boyfriend, his friends, and some of my own friends. I’m sure in a lot of ways this semester is going to be really great, and I’m sure it’s also going to really suck, but hey, it’s just another stepping stone to getting my bachelors and masters degrees. More debt in my wallet instead of money. Yippie!

Now my problem is this: all summer all I wanted to do was right. However, I work best in places like libraries, which, unfortunately, happen to be the places that tend to be closed when I’m available. I might also work well in an office area with a nice clean desk and no distractions, but unfortunately I work at a cafe and my room is almost always a mess because, let’s face it, I’ve degraded into a 13 year old who never makes her bed and leaves clothes and food on her floor due to laziness and boredom. I’ve become a slob. As I write, I can look over to my left and see my trash can overflowing, two cups of devours cappuccinos lying beside the base of the trash, and a bag carrying an old box of Wahoo’s burritos about 3 feet from it cause there was no space in the trash and no space around the trash either. I really need to dump my trash. 

My point is that I’ve had enough free time to be writing, but I’ve lost my determination and I’ve had trouble being able to focus. Clutter makes me unfocused and, unfortunately, so does heat. It’s summer in Southern California, and that means that for the last month the temperature has been around the high 80s/ low 90s. I work best in life and in writing when it’s somewhere between the low 50s and nothing past 70 degrees. I really do need to move North. I’m sure right now it seems like I’m making excuses, and it’s quite possible that I might be. The thing is that I’ve had 2.5 months to write, to work on my novel, my poems, and I haven’t gotten much done. I can blame it on the weather, on my work schedule, on my lack of cleanliness, to the fact that my computers love to not work when I need them most, but it really all boils down to me.

If I had my choice of career and I didn’t have to worry at all about money, I would choose writing. If I could choose where I wrote, I would choose in a small house with two rooms–one office, one bedroom–that way my clutter is kept away from my work space, and it would probably be somewhere cold where I can bundle myself up in sweaters and sweatpants and fuzzy socks and knitted blankets with cups of coffee or tea lattes nestled in my cold little hand. Perhaps the lack of clutter frees up my mind to create; maybe the low temperatures stimulate my mind more–I know for a fact when I’m sleepy and can’t sleep that my mind overflows with stories, with words; and if I got a steady sort of income, and one of comfort too where I wouldn’t be stressing about money so much, then I wouldn’t have to worry about going to bed at a particular hour or sleeping in late because time would no longer be a factor. 

These conditions would be ideal for writing, but these are not the conditions that I have. I have the opposite of these, and to top it off I also have a loaded work schedule–and the one dollar pay raise helps, but somehow I’m still lacking in funds because this breaks down along with that and all at once and it drains my bank account and then I have to start saving all over again, ever poor–a loaded class schedule, chores to get done at home, keeping my room’s mess at bay for ample study and writing focus, no sleep, no money for coffee, laziness that accompanies the lack of sleep and fitness due to lack of time, lack of time due to school and work and having a boyfriend and chores to keep up with, etc. 

I always feel like the world is against me, that there are so many other people so much more capable than I am and they’re doing it all. Most of them tend to be single or have a very understanding and supportive partner, but I haven’t got either. I haven’t got anything, and yet I have too much. It’s a difficult situation to explain. I really just want to move North and start all over. Writing while having a job and classes is tough. I’m determined to do it, even if I’m not writing my novel–though that is my focus–because writing is writing. I’m writing right here, right now, and for the last few days I’ve had poems pop into my head and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a pen and a piece of paper around to record them or enough quietness to recite them over and over so I don’t forget them. I am cursed, and I am blessed.

I am a writer.