you may say that i'm a dreamer

Sometimes I forget the things I do at work while I'm bored. I just found this saved on my computer as "random - being a writer"... written, apparently, 18 days before we left for Florida.

In an effort to better effuse a vibe of “SERIOUS WRITER,” I like to keep a strategically cluttered desk at work. That means bottle of water at 2:00, where I can easily grab it with my right hand while keeping my eyes on the screen, scanning what I’ve written. Cell phone out, on top of a small legal pad, as though I’m just waiting for my editor (who doesn’t actually exist) to give me an update on my most recent submission (which also doesn’t exist). My wire “inbox” has stacks of papers with the notorious manila envelope – unclipped, of course – on the top. The mere presence of this manila envelope suggests that the thoughts are pouring forth from my brain through my fingers into the clacking keyboard and onto the computer screen, ready to jump out of the printer and tuck themselves neatly inside said envelope, to be addressed, stamped and mailed to be published. What’s actually inside the manila envelope is case notes from someone else who actually does their job, instead of sitting at the computer, making various faces at the computer screen as the words aren’t coming out as neatly coagulated as initially intended. Although, when alliteration slips out, I can’t help but emit a slightly smug smile. Again.

I also have my 2008 weekly planner located to my immediate left, as well as a gigantic desk calendar propped up against the wall. This is, one would assume, to keep me on track and remind me how much time I have until my looming deadlines. One would never be so brash as to suggest that the only reason I have these calendars within such close proximity is so I can count and re-count the number of days remaining until my vacation to Florida (18!).

SERIOUS WRITER Rule #1: Never run out of Post-its. Post-its are a necessity in a writer’s life. I like to have at least two stuck to my computer, reminding me of various work-related tasks. In addition, I like to keep a couple stuck to the desktop a few inches from my mouse. The top sheet of the Post-it notes should never be blank. Writers must always have a freshly scribbled note waiting to be plucked and stuck somewhere supposedly useful. Stacks of Post-its litter the insides of my desk drawers. Probably one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer was because I innately knew that writing = paper. I do happen to be obsessed with paper. Pads, journals, Post-its, looseleaf, spiral notebooks, composition notebooks – these are the things dreams are made of. The place where ink meets paper is a sacred spot.

On my desk I also have the mandatory PICTURE OF THE BELOVED, circa July 7, 2007. The wedding day, complete with small heart sticker, indicating that this photo has been on other desks, where it received the complimentary sticker. This photograph sits directly behind my work telephone, which only rings about twice a day. Next to the photograph are the mandatory stapler and tape dispenser. No one, least of all SERIOUS WRITERS, would ever consider having a desk without a stapler and tape dispenser casually displayed. In a rather bold move, I keep my staple remover inside the top right drawer. Many people would argue that the staple remover should also be casually displayed alongside the stapler itself. However, my staple remover prefers the dark solitude found inside desk drawers. After lunch, when I hit that mid-afternoon lull, I'd gladly trade places with my staple remover.

The only other Desktop Regulation for all SERIOUS WRITERS is THE PEN. There must be a pen – UNCAPPED – strewn on the desk somewhere AT ALL TIMES. I like to keep mine on a pad of paper, signifying the fact that I am ready, at a moment’s notice, to let the ink flow, should inspiration strike.

Bonus points awarded for: binder clips, random sheets of paper with lots of typed print on them laying about, half-eaten sub (apple core will also suffice), highlighters, subliminal political/social message (preferably a poster/printed picture).

As a SERIOUS WRITER, I would never admit to using Thesaurus.com or Dictionary.com. Naturally, having my Bachelor’s in English, I know every word and it’s precise usage. I never need to look up words when my brain is frozen, because that doesn’t happen after you major in English. Your thoughts spew forth seamlessly. And good heavens, there is certainly never a word that I’m unsure of it’s exact meaning. Some English majors might still struggle with that, but certainly not after they took Latin for four years in high school. No, I know the roots of all English words derived from the great Romans.

SERIOUS WRITERS draw their inspiration from what happens around and within them. If I were to follow those rules today, I would be writing about a case of stomach gurgles, whose noises are droned out only by the vicious wind threatening to throw massive trees into our old building.

The funniest thing about all of this SERIOUS WRITER business is that I’m not. I work at a foster care agency, typing out documents so foster parents can get their state-mandated money. If I were to write the Job Description, it might look something like this: “Determination of Care Writer must be able to maintain a look of intent interest while perusing a variety of material via the Internet, regardless of content. DOC Writer will be required to submit anywhere between 2 to 200 documents per week. DOC Writer will be given little to no notice of what each week’s (or day’s) workload will be. DOC Writer must possess strong self-amusement qualities, as he or she may experience hours at a time where co-workers will not respond to emails, making actual work impossible. DOC Writer must have decent “people skills” – or at least enough to prevent you from lashing out at workers who don’t think your job qualifies as a REAL JOB.” Which, perhaps it doesn’t, which would explain why I daydream about being a SERIOUS WRITER.


  1. The thing about serious writers is that they become self-absorbed, numb insomniacs. A lot of writers will do a thing called "free-falling": it's when you sit down at your computer or with paper and pen and just write. And write. And write. And write. Not actually thinking at all about what you're writing. Just ... writing. Nothingness.

    Did I mention it's 4:41 a.m. on Tuesday morning and I have to be at work at 1 p.m. tomorrow? Man I'm exhausted. And I can't feel my fingers.

  2. Rachel, you are such a good writer... I am in awe of your serious writerness. (and it is very evident, that I am not and will never be a serious writer or an English major)

  3. nice. i like the job description. it fits perfectly. although you should have added that while some people find the task of writing quite daunting and difficult, the DOC writer writes with ease, thus has nothing to do by the end of the second week of the month. I especially liked the part about the not responding to emails.

  4. and now i am also thinking i should have waited until tomorrow to read and comment on your blog to fill in some "free time" that i will have tomorrow.

  5. Your slightly smug smile makes me happy.