The morning began as most as winter workdays do, which is to say dark, and because of that, what felt far too early to me.
This year, I made a conscious effort to remember my writing birthday – to commemorate it on the actual day, or if nothing else, to at least make note of it. February 12: in truth, an arbitrarily-chosen day meant to mark the start of my first (incomplete, shelved) novel as approximated through a forensic accounting some emails I sent to a friend around that time.
I’m an Aquarius writer.
Never before had I celebrated my writing birthday – not a single one of the six that occurred before this one. (And I certainly didn’t observe the six additional years I gave up writing and hence didn’t age as a writer at all.)
At first this was because my writing age seemed too young to be worthy of recognition.
But in subsequent years, I didn’t because the day happens to align with one of the busiest times of the year at my job – a period punctuated by double-digit overtime hours, six-day work weeks, and, for me at least, a never-ending focus on just getting the job done.
But this year would be different
I scraped myself out of bed, in the dark. My knee was hurting – it had been for some weeks now; a gym injury from overuse. I performed my usual morning routine of washing, breakfast, and reading blogs.
Because it was a Thursday, I also swept my kitchen and bathroom floors before leaving for work.
I rode my bike to work, as I do most days. The forecast was calling for rain, but it wasn’t raining yet. So I took advantage of not yet needing to body wrap myself in nylon-polyurethane cycling gear to stop at the grocery store for some hummus. I’d been out all week and am used to eating it every day as part of my lunch.
I might have considered buying my lunch that day – something indulgent from somewhere within the business world bread basket surrounding my office. If not that, at least a celebratory cupcake. My boss once bought me a red velvet cupcake for my actual birthday and it remains one of the most scrumptious desserts I’ve ever consumed.
But, by the time I was ready to start thinking about lunch, it had turned torrential and grey outside. Plus, I’d grown too tired and achy to walk all the way to Robson Street for a cupcake after my Tabata class half an hour earlier at the gym. Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training, and this particular session saw us doing eight sets of mountain-climbers and eight sets of push-ups back to back.
I didn’t do my knee any favours in that class, although I did work my shoulder, which also hurt from my ongoing tendonitis.
Every day I’m getting older, and not just as a writer.
I do a lot of writing in my work: writing emails that people don’t read, training documents that people don’t read, revisions to program curricula that people don’t read.
During this busy period, I also update spreadsheets, print documents, photocopy documents, cut up papers, sort papers, locate lost papers, and of course, good old-fashioned, never-ending paper-pushing.
Crunch times make it feel like not a moment can be spared and that days fly by like memories. However, I did make time to email myself a snippet from my WIP for fear the idea would otherwise be lost:
I didn’t want to believe E would harm a child, but was this person even really still E?
I also texted two friends to tell them today was my writing birthday. Only one – the one who isn’t also a writer – texted back.
The greatest birthday present of all
When I finally left work – overtime, thoroughly exhausted, and mildly peeved to still not receive a text from my writer friend who, more than anyone, should’ve cared about the day’s significance for me – the rain had stopped, so I once again eschewed my rain gear.
It’s an unwritten rule of cycling in Vancouver that if you arrive at your destination after 8am and 5:30pm, you will get rained on, so I should have known better. And also not presumed I could out-ride the rain in my present state instead of stopping to suit up.
I ate eggs, Tater Tots, and (unintentionally) weak tea for dinner, for by now I was overworked, tired, peeved, and cold from getting soaked through and in need of some serious comfort.
Because it was Thursday, I also vacuumed my carpets while waiting for the food to be ready.
As I did so, the vacuum’s unrelenting drone seemed to uncouple my body from my conscious mind, which rose high above the challenges of the day – rose to the level of my subconscious, which whispered like a lover words to be written: parts of this very blog post; more of the snippet I’d emailed myself; what comes next in the WIP I’ve been working on since 2005 and I hope to complete in draft by Easter.
The key life phrase of the sign of Aquarius is “I progress”. As a writer, that’s exactly what I do. Every day.
Who’s even heard of a writing birthday anyway? No wonder mine lacked fanfare.
In the end, I commemorated the day the only way a writer can.
Do you celebrate a writing birthday? If yes, how? How do you commemorate any other writing-related milestones? Let me know in the comments.