Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2019 >Daily Dispatch #5

January 5, 2019: The Writing Life: Never a Day Without a Line

Nulla Dies Sine Linea – my teacher Donald Murray, when I was an undergraduate, gave me a 3 x 8 card that had this saying on it. I still have it. It’s in my cabin; I need to pin it up on my bulletin board, which is here, to my left, in my winter work space.

Murray’s words have always rung true for me. I write a 500 word dispatch every day. I also try to work on other, writing-related projects. If I fail to work on the latter, I end up lying awake at night and chastising myself for being a failed writer.

I wish I was, but I am not like Joyce Carole Oats or John Updike, who were compulsive writers. They quickly determined who their

 post earthquake clutter
Post earthquake clutter in Alys's study

respective audiences were, and ended up churning out incredible amounts of high quality prose. At least many claimed that what they churned was high-quality. I thought otherwise. I ventured to say that spending eight hours a day or more writing gives one little time to do much else. I added that one has to find the elusive balance between the life lived and the lived life. Oates and Updike chose to put their energies into the life lived.

I am back to thinking about my own writerly priorities. It has been difficult, finding time in the mornings to get work done in the winter because I feel compelled to get the horses out in the winter before it gets dark. And it’s been difficult, finding time in the mornings to get writing done during the other seasons because I feel compelled to get the horses out while there’s plenty of daylight. I also, year around, have other horse and non-horse related responsibilities, all of my own making.

I made a tough decision this morning. The writing life is going to have to take precedence over the horse life. I have a lot of projects that I wish to complete and several that I wish to start and this won’t happen unless I prioritize. One hour a day, bare minimum, is my writerly never a day without a line goal.

Step by step, Dog is my co-pilot, anchors aweigh, one day at a time, etc, etc. Today I did well. Pete was finishing up copy editing my proposal and letter, so rather than wait on him getting this back to me, I revised an essay that started out as an email message to Kathy Lockerbie, Tyra’s former owner. It’s about our encounter with two fat tired bicyclists, a handful of snowmobilers, and a snowplow driver. My assertion is that small outings are as important as larger outings because they contribute to the horses’ being reliable trail animals.

I considered sending this article on to one of many lesser publications that don’t pay anything because I’d almost guarantee getting published. I then decided that I don’t need to add more lower tier publications to my vitae list. I need to add more higher tier publications. I also deserve to be paid for my work. “Deserve” isn’t a good enough word. Rather, I should say that I should be paid for my work.

I’ll finish this article up tonight or tomorrow morning. Never a Day without a Line, indeed.

Next: 6. 1/6/19: Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles