Humairah Jamil

Edition XXXXI

The Default State of a Writer - by Humairah Jamil (Photo by Joshua Fuller).jpgPhoto credit: Joshua Fuller

The Default State of a Writer

By Humairah Jamil

The default state of a writer
isn’t a cigarette-smoking,
alcohol-swigging, typewriter-banging
character. It isn’t sitting by the window,
admiring the flowers in fall,
overlooking the blues and greens 
while waiting for a ray 
of inspiration to descend. It isn’t 
an inexorable flow of the pen.
It isn’t picturing Bukowski 
and his cats, Murakami and
his jazz, or the films that put 
the writer in a rose-tinted light. 
It isn’t sitting in libraries or cafés
looking pensive and poised
with words jumping at you 
as you write, write, write.
A writer is neither ridiculously
knowledgeable nor wise.

The default state of a writer,
to be honest, is a mess. 
Not one-size-fits-all. Clueless at best.
With a burning desire to discover
the self, and the constellation of cells 
that connects. It is laborious. 
Languorous. It is 5am routines. 
Discipline. It is language 
edited. Backspace. Embellish. 
Write. Erase. Write.
What am I doing with my life?
Save as draft. Enter. Delete. 
It is tears on paper; of disappointment,
of laughter. The writer as a light bearer
is a romantic conceit.
21st century ones are the strangest.
In between meetings and
an avalanche of work,
watching films, after arguments
dripping in disdain, through eavesdropped 
conversations in the train.
It is furiously typing on iPhone Notes.
It is scribbling on folded receipts. 
It is unmonetizable. It is foolish. 
Foolishly stubborn 
with hope in hand. So here is where 
the writer sits. Or stands. Dreams 
and does. With nothing
but a pen, spilling all the voices
that won’t sit still. Tending 
the mind garden, no matter 
how long and excruciating, patient 
in curating haphazard thoughts 
and sentiments and lessons 
into memories.
Into language.
Into words.
Into worlds.
Into life.
Into light.


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