Friday, April 10, 2009

You Might Be a Writer If...

This week the weather has been all over the spectrum in Oklahoma. We've gone from low 20s to high 80s all in one week. And all while I'm in the middle of a work in progress. I wouldn't have noticed the weather swings if it hadn't been for the fact that they've made me think about what I'm wearing. Don't I usually at least think about what to put on each day anyway, you wonder?

Well...

You might be an author if...clothing is not high on your list of things to obsess about.

It seems like each profession has its "uniform" of sorts. Businesspeople, lawyers, anyone in corporate America generally wears a suit. Teachers wear more comfortable clothing, kid friendly. Mechanics wear something that can get dirty.

But authors?

We spend all of our time by ourselves in an imaginary world. My imaginary friends don't care what I wear, just so long as whatever I'm wearing doesn't keep me from focusing all my energies on them. Granted, there are moments when authors have to at least act as though they care about personal appearance, like, when we have to talk to large groups of non-authors, who might not understand the baggy sweatpants, oversized shirt, disheveled hair, coffee mug permanently attached to one hand, three pens in your hair secret author uniform, if you can call it that.

When I'm up to my eyes deep in a manuscript, even that can be a high functioning look. I just don't care how I look. It's awful! I'll wear the same clothes for a couple of days on end. Granted I change to sleep and run, but then it's right back into the comfy jeans or sweatpants and baggy shirt, and thick socks. Whatever. Whatever it was I picked out when I was still thinking about clothes.

When I was writing my dissertation, it really got bad. I wore the same pair of loose, ultra comfy sweatpants every day for a year. Okay, okay, I washed them! I changed out of them if I had to leave my writing cocoon and go into the real world - the library was an exception. I didn't change for that. Which probably explains why those pants became my dissertation. I couldn't write without them. I wore them all the time when I was writing, even when I was nine months pregnant.

Yeah, that was a little scary. I retired the dissertation pants when I graduated, but they still call to me (because I couldn't throw them away or recycle them). So far, I've resisted. But only barely. They are the most comfortable pair of pants I own, even if they knees are patched up and the color is fading big time.

Why, why, why are we writers like this? It's almost like keeping the clothing the same, keeps my mood the same, which means I can dive back into the manuscript a little more easily. If I change from one thing to the next, it changes my mood. Bright and cheerful to somber and dark, or heavy to light really affects my mood. And that affects my writing.

Nonetheless, I'm not ensconced in the ivory tower of graduate school anymore. I've got kids. I live in suburbia America. I have to change it up a bit; otherwise what will the neighbors think? Still, I do "secret" stuff like wear the same necklace every single day for a piece until it's done. It helps, but man do I miss those dissertation pants. Miss them...

Honestly, it's no wonder so many writers burrow away from the real world into almost hermit-like isolation. How else can we wear the writer's true uniform that enables one to write that heartbreaking work of staggering genius???

7 comments:

beth said...

HAHA! I am so exactly the same way. Actually, my day job as a teacher means that I have to be semi-professional during the day...and if I want to work on writing after work, I've got to change into my sloppy clothes.

Rena said...

Oh, that's funny about wearing the same pants to do your writing. Or even one secret little thing. I've never really thought about that much. When I write, it can be anywhere in the house, if I'm using the laptop. But yeah, being comfortable really makes a difference. Clothes just aren't that important to me, sadly. They never have been and it was always stressful when I worked jobs that required professional outfits. Now I stay home and homeschool my kids, so it's pretty much anything goes here! ;)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

There's much to be said for clothes setting the mood. I find I am worthless if I stay in my jammies all day, but the effort of putting on sweats sure makes a difference!

Ello said...

I wear the same jeans so much they could stand up and walk around by themselves. For real that's a little scary.

Stacy Nyikos said...

It's so cool to know I'm not alone!

Fantastic Forrest said...

You are great. Obviously a staggering genius. I mean, um, a creator of work of staggering genius!

I saw you'd given my friend Bee Drunken an award, and came here to see what such an insightful person had to say.

Now I will have to read other posts to figure out what your dissertation was about... :-)

Stacy Nyikos said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by! My dissertation was a littler weightier than what I write today. It was on the Euoropean Court of Justice and National Courts and strategic interaction among them within the preliminary reference process. Fallen asleep yet??