I finally went to see a therapist. She says I’m only spending 20% of my time “in my passion” and I really should be spending 70% of my time “in my passion” and I’m trying to figure out what this means or how it would be possible.
She also says I should clean my house and exercise and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to do those things during the 30% of my time not in my passion or if I’m supposed to get passionate about them.
Presumably I should also pay my rent, pick my daughter up from school, fix my car radio, go to the post office, read my email, check the database for the status of your subscription, keep the fridge stocked with soy milk and carrot sticks, call Peet’s to find out about that coffee donation for the Mother’s Day event, see if Rachael can do the radio show on the 5th, file my taxes, find my pen.
I tell the therapist I’m passionate about books and I’ve written quite a few of them and people are constantly asking me how I have time for all this writing, all these books, all this passion. I tell her that they seem impressed.
She doesn’t seem impressed.
She asks me if I feel like a fraud. I am not terribly impressed myself, but I do not feel like a fraud. Why would I feel like a fraud?
I write while I’m driving. This is probably rather dangerous. Worse than being on the cell phone, really. But I try to be careful. I write in my head and then I speak it out loud so I won’t forget it and then I jot it down at red lights.
This is why I do not take the freeway.
I learned to do this when my daughter was small and the car seat provided the only respite. Later, she got a plastic car and tooled around our concrete backyard muttering half-lines of poetry as she turned the wheel because she understood that this was how you drive. You drive muttering and then you write at red lights. I don’t even look down at the notebook in my lap as I scribble because the person behind me inevitably starts raging on his horn if the light turns green and I don’t budge. So I keep my eye on the signal, hoping it will stay red just a little bit longer, and I write in a shorthand that’s part English, part Chinese, part random symbolism. Arrows and circles and plus signs and ankhs and a cursive that would make my third grade penmanship teacher weep.
It’s pretty hard to decipher it all when I get home, but I’m doing the best I can.