Mario Villalobos

The Writing Life

”How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives," is probably one of my favorite quotes of all time. It’s by Annie Dillard, and I’m currently reading her book, The Writing Life, where this quote appears. The context for the quote involves schedules where, in roughly her words, a day spent reading books isn’t a good day, but a life spent reading books is a good life. She went into many examples of routines from writers she admired, and how many of them had the same routine every day. Some read for hours in the morning before they wrote; others had to walk for a few hours before they were ready to write; and Annie’s, where she had to walk to a small cabin with no windows and only the essential tools needed to write before she could write. Yesterday I wrote briefly about routines, so I was nodding my head and agreeing with everything she had to write about this topic.

I believe that good routines can add up to a good life, a life of one’s own design. We all want something great from our lives, but many of us don’t know how to get that. I’m not saying I have the answers for everyone, but I think I’m close to finding that for myself. A life where I write every morning, where I examine myself every night, and where I push my fitness to the extreme every day, is, in my opinion, a life worth living. As long as these basic routines are accomplished every day, I’m happy. Of course I want to do more than this, and most of the time, I do. But if for some reason I can’t do any of them, I hope to at least accomplish these three routines.

If there’s one point that I disagree with Annie Dillard on is the environment a writer surrounds himself in. She believes that all a writer needs is a basic environment where there really isn’t any stimuli present that could distract the writer from writing. I live in a studio. My apartment is my writing environment. But it’s also my home, and I want it to feel like one. I’ve been very focused these past few weeks on decorating my home as beautifully as I can, and today I began to see the fruits of my labor come into fruition. My desk, for the most part, is finished. I have everything I need and want on there, and I feel so much better and more productive with these new tools. I’ve been thinking about the rest of my house, and I’ve come up with a few ideas that have excited me tremendously. By the end — if I ever get there — my home will have many visual stimuli’s, but that’s by my own choosing. I’ve never been distracted by what’s surrounding me; instead, my biggest distraction is the internet. And that just involves willpower, which I tend to be pretty good with in the morning. Especially since I’m writing first thing in the morning, so I’m too tired to even care about the internet.

Montana is my home, and this place inspires me every day. I love my home, but it doesn’t feel like a home yet. It’s close, but there’s still so much more work to be done. I’m planning to drive to California to pick up about nine boxes of books. I’m also planning to stop by Ikea and other stores to buy some much needed furniture and decorations. I’m planning to do this soon, but I’m not too sure when. Once I do, though, once I come back with more stuff, not only will I be poorer, but also be happy with the place I’m now calling home.