There aren’t a lot of portable jobs out there. Teaching? Without a classroom, you’re just talking to yourself. Acting? You need a theater. Lawyering, accounting, marketing—most of those need some office time, even if you can take certain tasks on the road with you.
But writing: so easy.
I’m writing this post from a nice nook in the Student Center of my local community college. I feel pretty high-tech because I have an outlet for my cell phone and I’m working off the college’s wi-fi connection. But really, all I need is my notebook and pen to write. And I can take that anywhere I like.
That’s more than a matter of convenience. A change of venue is often needed to juice my creativity. Part of me draws comfort from the daily trek to my home office. My writing mind clicks into place when it sees all its familiar trappings: rugged old rolltop desk, cup of coffee, view of the crapabble tree out my window. But sometimes, like a spoiled two-year-old, my creative mind shuts down and refuses to work unless I give it something different: a new journal, a cool pen, a view of the sun cutting through autumn leaves, the roar of the surf. And because I write, I can indulge those desires. They come cheap. (Well, not the surf. I’m in Kansas, after all.)
So yes, I’m grateful that my chosen art form can go anywhere and doesn’t require an outlet or a studio or even a table. A sturdy lap, some lined paper, a writing instrument—that’s all I ask. And maybe a star to steer her by.
By John Masefield (Poet Laureate of England; 1878-1967)
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
Every Thursday this month I'm shedding my grump coat and giving thanks for the writing life. Search for the tag Thank-You Thursday to see other posts in the series.
Thanks to the PoetryFoundation.org for the text of Masefield’s famous poem.
images: top (John Masefield) courtesy of Wikipedia. Public domain. Image published in Newcomb, A; Blackford, K.M.H.: Analyzing Character, Blackford, New York, 1922. Earlier editions from 1916 and 1920 also exist.
bottom (brigantine) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: Brigantine 'Adolph' in the Bay of Naples. Unknown Italian artist. Public domain.