A Writer by any other name is just… a Reader.

What do you do when you’ve read so much that your brain has become too bogged down, too exhausted to write?

Lately I’ve been reading books. Books for bookclubs, books to entertain preschoolers, books to review before they are released into the big wide world… And then it happens. I sit down at my computer, and I drift. I look at the bookclub forums. I wonder why I’m still called “Contributer,” instead of “Frequent Contributor” or “Enlightened Godess of Plot and Character Interpretation.” I refresh my email. I look at my sister’s photos of Summer Vacation 2007.

The most writing I’ve done at one time lately is to make four posts to one of my online bookclubs in a single afternoon. When I first joined these sites, I marveled at the frequent posters who did not write, apart from their silly games and occassional “I liked it/ I hated it” reviews of contemporary fiction. These people who are so well-read but do not write. I never imagined I’d become one of them.

Yesterday I received my brand new business cards, with my name and title right there at the top: Sarita Li Johnson. Writer. Boldly bisecting the back of the card is the web address of this very blog: thelandlockedsailor.wordpress.com. I proudly inspected my new glossy declarations of identity, but the pride and excitement quickly faded, with the realization that I have not been blogging at The Landlocked Sailor! How can I distribute these cards to the world, only to show them what I do not do? How on earth have I become a Reader Who Does Not Write?

Right here and now I have decided that the 4th of March is not too late a date to make resolutions. From now on, for every literary response I construct, I will create an equally read-worthy piece of my own. How will I measure this? For each subject (not each post) that I respond to in a reader’s forum, I will write on one other subject, of my own devising, on this blog. Sounds doable to me. Who’s with me? Readers of the world, let’s write!

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Eleven Days

I got off the boat eleven days ago. I worked there for $40 a day.

Today I found a 9-6 receptionist job for $15 an hour. With an hour for lunch, this boils down to $120 to sit in an office all day and be nice to people. I can do that. In fact, I’ve done it before. I’ve counted on those hour-long lunch breaks to get my reading, studying, and even exercise done.

That seems like a different world.

For the past year, I have spent at least six days per week at work, at an average of fourteen hours per day. I was actually very excited to find a job in my field that paid $40 a day! These were labor-filled days. Keeping up the boat demanded heavy lifting, climbing, cleaning, hauling, painting, sanding, teaching, and in all kinds of weather and all kinds of conditions. Some days the students were screaming because there was water washing over the deck and they couldn’t keep themselves upright. Some days were so hot and still I couldn’t even get them excited about petting fish.

Eleven days… off the boat for eleven days. Most of these eleven days I’ve been sitting on the floor staring at this computer screen: sometimes surfing, occasionally chatting, but mostly job-hunting. I’ve had a wireless connection from the first moment of consciousness in the morning until finally drifting off, unable to type another word. I haven’t had to work twenty-eight consecutive days for each day of leisure, and I haven’t had to travel for an hour to the nearest e-cafe for Internet, just to spend my last $1.50 on chamomile tea because it’s the cheapest thing on the menu. I haven’t woken up in the wee small hours of the morning to discover that I’m laying on deck in the middle of a torrential downpour, having to run around closing hatches and putting in weatherboards before rushing off to my stuffy cabin, looking for dry clothes and dry blankets before drifting off for the one or two remaining hours of sleep I might be able to squeeze in.

I’ve had a grocery store, a movie theatre, a library, a bank, even a Target within walking distance these eleven days. I’ve been able to see new places in broad daylight- during business hours, even, and been able to buy souvenirs.

I’ve been offered what I consider to be three days’ pay for half a day’s work. I’ve slept in till noon. I’ve watched movies and read magazines. I’ve washed the dishes that only I have dirtied. I’ve had a hot shower every day. I haven’t run out of toothpaste, deodorant, or clean clothes. I’ve even been to the nail salon.

Eleven days… Maybe day twelve is where the fun begins.

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