Gee, look at me.
I’m a writer – fresh off finishing a memoir – who’s also on several social media platforms. And, thanks to WordPress, my website looks slick. Digital cameras produce top-notch images for all my blogs and various online platforms. These tools of the trade (practically unheard of only fifteen years ago) can often make me – or anyone – look spectacular. It seems just about every writer these days has a professional-looking website, large following on some social media, or book in print or online. In fact, after Googling Mike Andberg, people may even think I’m fantastically successful.
Hm-m-m. Roll back the curtain. Let’s study this closer.
What do writers look like when they’re writing? I’ve always wanted to know. What’s the image of them as they write?
A second winter cold wave has just hit Santa Fe. I’m writing today in the nicest piece of furniture I own, an easy chair inherited from my mother’s estate nine years ago. If it wasn’t for the space heater beneath my feet (a thrift store bargain), I’d be freezing. There’s a blanket over my legs. I’m writing through fancy horn-rimmed glasses I bought many years ago, then lost, then miraculously found a year later in the dirt near my parking space. They are no longer fancy. I continue to dress in yesterday’s sloppy clothes, which, for me, are everyday attire on weekends – sweat pants and fleece top. I’m also wearing a stocking cap. My quaint condo is cute but has lousy heat, forcing me to do things like wear stocking caps. A small desk lamp (another thrift store bargain) illuminates my surroundings enough that I’m comfortable writing. The room is quiet – I hate any background noise. I prefer that all window blinds be closed – brightness is too distracting. Eating is a chore – stopping for it could mean I’ll lose writing flow (assuming I’m actually flowing, a phenomenon that coincides with hunger without fail).
After a long period in which flow has been achieved – but quickly turned to trickle status – I take a break and walk outside to the mailbox. Once there, I realize I’m wearing skuzzy sweat pants and fleece top festooned with an unfathomable amount of pills, an image of me neighbors weren’t prepared to see. Still enough in the writing zone, I don’t realize what crap I’m wearing.
Writing is not relegated to the freezer that is my condo. Because I absolutely cannot – cannot – waste time, I write wherever I go. Waiting in the Discount Tire lobby for new tires to be installed on my 2000 Prizm yesterday, people picked up whatever they could get their hands on to keep their bored minds occupied – Auto Trader, Muscle Car magazine, etc. I couldn’t bear to think of the time I’d have wasted if I hadn’t brought my laptop. I felt good and, in case you’re wondering, was better dressed.
There was me at work a few days ago, sitting in my car with laptop, trying to scrunch twenty-two minutes of creativity into my half hour lunch break. Avocado fell on the keyboard and I went ballistic, the clean up process diminishing my writing time to seventeen minutes.
But my work ethic is paying off. Reading today’s Sunday Albuquerque Journal, I discover the humor piece I submitted has been published. There I am in print, taking up 500 words of space. Surrounding the big gray block of type is a color image I took for the article, not to mention a bio photo I sent of me sporting hip clothes and a handsome smile, both qualities rarely – if ever – seen together in one shot. Hm-m-m…. Roll up the blinds. Shine light on man’s fervent inclination to always put his best foot forward.
Now I wonder this: Were I a writer who suddenly became known all around the world and had money to burn, would I do or look any different from the Mike Andberg who writes now?
Probably not. Those fuzzy clothes brought me good luck!