the time is 10:32 PM est. i am hunched over my laptop, shoved into the corner of our apartment. the desk–my wife’s–is positioned next to an open window, where humid air blows in, where expensive cold blows out–along with the cigarette smoke. this is my smoking section now, a place where i light up a Marlboro menthol and conduct the work. it’s isolating–i face the white wall where a painting i hate hangs far away from our living room’s disheveled decor. we’re moving in three weeks; i’m moving too in two weeks: 29 to 30. and i think about time as i ignore the fatigue in my body: its gaps; its waste; its application.
time, my use of it, is a matter of extremes: i devote it to a project or thought…or i hoard it all to myself as i sit on the couch, reading, watching, waiting. right now, i type because i devote my time to literature; i write out of a conflation of desire and obligation: my word is my bond–i owe PANK a column–and the work brings a stretched smile across my face, my cigarette bobbing up & down amid a chuckle. there is no better way to utilize time than to work on craft of any kind, in every sense of the word: craft as tools for prose; craft as spells casted to make HTML bend to my will; craft as in creation, formation, of bonds between myself and allies.
sometimes, i want to videotape myself. just to see how i use my time, to watch my movements while reading a book or typing on my laptop or the way i stroke my beard during an episode of Hoarders. it feels like work–to appear busy with one thing while my mind crafts ideas. conversation starters. or conversation explosives, some neutron bomb dropped by smart, crafty men & women spending time online like me–or working on their individual arts, collectively. the more i chat online and write long emails to my favorite writers, or the most interesting strangers, the more it feels like work. purposeful work. a reminder, maybe, that i’m not so alone, even now at this time, writing by the open window, puff-puffing my life away, to the chagrin of my wife. this desk, then, is considered marital compromise.
some might consider my work as time-sinks. i’m writing a blog post off-the-cuff as the clock swings toward 11; i wrote a small note on Tumblr about the visibility of a lit mag editor; i tweet about Reality Hunger; i re-read emails on ghostwriting; i accept my new role (begrudgingly) as a sort of expert, since all expertise needs–literarily speaking–is the intent to publish other writers. i find that funny since i don’t even know my own work or why i’m suddenly fearful–figuratively–of uppercase letters. but i spend my time writing in this manner, as i spend time conversing with people. making them laugh, making them think, making them pause: these are the sparks & dust specks of community. i said i wanted a home; it takes time to give people reason to help build a home with you.
what is exhausting is the fretting over: plans and layout; the need to make minor adjustments to incorrect objects–wrong font, wrong spacing–because i notice them; the rejection letters sent out; the monitoring of traffic analytics; the role of conversationalist. but i asked for it; i went and done it by wishing for these moments. i just want to belong; i also want to be generous with my time. and i do so without complaint. what is exhausting is what i wanted all along. home is worth the sleep deprivation, the smoking, the fretting. burnout as a brilliant sun suffocated and collapsing into itself; burnout as a portal to life as a phoenix. snuffed out & rising again–every night, every day–is what i was put on this earth to do. to spend my time online, in a corner, coughing and puff-puffing, living a simple dream coming true.