This Is What I’ve Done

by Optimism One

Ops Desk in BaliKelle Groom told us in English 517R (Craft of Literary Nonfiction Workshop) that at one point in her writing career, a pivotal point, she put her writing desk right by the front door of her apartment so that she always saw it before she left or when she came home.

This is what I’ve done.

She also told us that she made folders–physical, tangible folders–of all the printed drafts and pieces that went into individual essays or chapters or poems, labeling each folder according to its given content and keeping those folders visible on her writing desk.

This is what I’ve done.

Finally, she said that she designed her life in such a way that if it supported her writing, then it was welcome; if not, it was not.

This is not quite what I’ve done, but I’m certainly moving in that direction.

I’m in Bali, Indonesia, from now until Christmas and the next residency. I’ve rented a nice studio apartment and a motorbike, and I have a regional mobile phone, a ‘handphone’ in the local parlance.

My responsibilities are so basic (eating and sleeping) that there really isn’t any excuse but to read and write as much as possible. Therefore, so far, I’ve read all of a few literary magazines (The Normal School, Fourth Genre, and Creative Nonfiction), parts of a couple others (Tin House and Poets & Writers), and all of Suzanne Roberts’ Plotting Temporality [awe-some!]. Also, I just started a collection of interviews called A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration. Meanwhile, after getting a somewhat slow start on my writing due to (excuses, excuses) not having and not being able to find a proper voltage converter and apparently not feeling compelled enough to simply put pen to paper, I have written a few things: “Yes and No,” a list of experiences and insights about being in the Hong Kong airport for thirteen hours; “Whipped by the Old Man,” a sketch on my first surfing expedition since arriving in Bali; and a few different parts for a much longer piece that is tentatively titled “What’s In a Name?,” an exploration of the various names I’ve had over the course of my life. All of the above are most certainly in the first-draft stage. Also, I keep my SNC MFA notebook with me everywhere I go, jotting down ideas and lines that come to me when inspiration shines. This latter idea comes from Suzanne Roberts, who said in our travel writing class that she has different-sized notebooks to fit any and every occasion.

This is what I’ve done.