Le Magic

I am a morning writer. Not because I want to be. But because I have to be.

I have spent so many years operating under the assumption and misconception that my work will come to me when I am ready. That the muse cannot be tamed. That it must remain unpredictable and feral. That true artistry comes from the unexpected Immaculate Conception of prose.

This, in my opinion, is horseshit.

And to be clear, I am simply talking about the act of writing. I am not talking about all of the pain and suffering that comes along with it–the nightmares, the sleepless nights, the reading, the outlining, the meditating, the discovery, the note taking. Just the writing.

You either write or you don’t. End of story.

I am also aware that every writer is different. Some can’t sit down and write every day. Some can only write at night. Some can only write on weekends. Or when they have something to say. One of my teachers, Amy Hempel, once told me that she doesn’t sit down to write until she has a sentence worked out in her head. That she hears the beat of the sentence and then finds the words, before putting pen to paper. I don’t know about you, but I feel that’s insane. Insane because it’s not how I work. My wife doesn’t write every day either. She writes when she has something to say, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t working. She is just still int he suffering stage. Neither are right. Neither are wrong. They both just are. But they write.

And that’s the beauty of this craft.

What I am talking about are the non-writing writers stealing our magic. Those who who self-acknowledge as a writer, but who never actually write.

Don’t muddy our waters, please. We have vanity presses and the Kindle for that.

I write every morning because I have to write every morning. I work a day job from 9am to 6pm, sometimes 7pm or even 8pm. Not mention my commute to and from Brooklyn. At the end of the day, my brain and all reasonable capacity for creativity is shot to shit. This leaves me only the mornings.

I wake at 5am every day. Some days 530am if I need extra time to snuggle with my wife. I make a lunch. I pack my bag for the day. I do the dishes. I pick up the apartment. I take out the trash. All the while revving my brain, waking it, readying for the write. Then by 6am I am in my chair, writing. Picking up where I left off the day before. I write for two straight hours, before I pull on my coat and am out the door commuting to work.

Often times I have to stop right when the shit gets good. That burns bad, but I know I will be picking up tomorrow in really good shape. Some mornings the words are crap. Others, they are wasted words, deleted at 8am before I shut down my computer. But then there are days, like today, when it’s the most magical fucking world out there.

This morning I wrote and it felt like I was invincible. I could rattle the world and bring it to its knees, if I wanted. Fucking Godzilla of Prose. I am not saying they are greatest words every written. I am not saying they will see the light publication. I am not even saying I am a good writer. What I am saying is that this morning was that magical morning where I didn’t feel connected to my novel, but I was my novel. I wasn’t thinking about the process of writing while writing, I was just trying to keep up with the words in my head. The characters existed. Flesh and fucking blood. They walked around my apartment. They talked to me. I could hear them and see them. It was magic.

Because of this, I felt especially connected to the schizophrenic next to me on the R train this morning. I understood where he was coming from. He was chatting away, sometimes heatedly, with his invisible friends and enemies. Telling them to “shut the fuck up” and “stop harassing me” and “come sit next to me” and “I wish you would fucking die.” I got it. I sympathized. That was me, just less scary, a few hours earlier, clean, and in my apartment. Not in front of 40 miserable New Yorkers dripping with rain, doing bad impressions of ignoring him, and reading about the latest NYC political scandal.

As a writer, I write because I don’t know how not to write. If I knew how not to write, I would. It’s lonely. It’s long. It’s fucking hard. If I miss a morning of writing, I am grumpy and a bastard for the rest of the day. On the flip side, if it’s a bad writing morning, I get the same outcome–Grumpy McBastard.

But that’s the way it is.

Some mornings are bad. Some mornings are good. And if I am lucky, I find the magic.

So you may be asking yourself, “Ross, you are little crazy in this blog post, but I have to ask, Why Le Magic?”

My answer: because Magic is French, of course. Hence, Le Magic.

Keep on.

JRA

About J. R. Angelella

J. R. Angelella is the author of the popular debut novel ZOMBIE: A NOVEL (Soho Press) and a contributing author to the murder-mystery anthology WHO DONE IT? (Soho Teen), benefiting the nonprofit organization 826NYC. His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Sou’wester, JMWW, The Collagist, Literary Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal and The Nervous Breakdown. His short story “Sauce” won the 2012 Short Story Contest held by The Coachella Review. He received a BA in English Literature from Ithaca College and an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. He taught creative writing at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City and currently teaches professional writing at the University of Maryland at College Park. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, the writer Kate Angelella.
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