Thursday, March 1, 2007

Writing vs Social Repartee

I'm sure the people on the bus have categorized me as 'that lady who pulls out that notebook all the time.' Once I climb aboard and find a seat, I dig into my bag, pull out my notebook, slip my pen from its easy-to-reach place in my purse and I'm already into the zone.

The only thing that stops me from getting a good amount of work done on my commute is the social aspect of public transit here in the Maritimes. People on the bus chat each other up, unlike the transit riders in say, Toronto. I lived in that marvellous big city for thirteen amazing years, and people there understand that transit has a certain etiquette. If you get on the bus with friends, of course you can talk to your friends. But if you get on the bus alone, you don't attempt to initiate conversation with other riders.

The only people who do that are the unbalanced sort. That makes it easy to differentiate between regular sorts of people and those who you may want to avoid. This means that many commuters use their very valuable travel time to do all sorts of things. I got into the habit of working on my writing during my hour heading downtown and my hour heading home. That's two hours of writing. Not to be passed up.

I learned very quickly that I wouldn't be so lucky back in my home province. Especially not on my morning bus ride. My bus erupted into a fullblown social club. We're called the Bus Buddies. We have a grand old time heading into work at 7 in the morning. Laughter, conversation, commaraderie - it's quite special, really. Loads of affection, caring and support. But not a great place to get any writing done.

Although they would tolerate it. They are the Bus Buddies, after all. They put up with my mad scribbling when I did NaNoWriMo two years ago. I had to write every second that I wasn't actively engaged in my paying day job. But so far I haven't managed to do regular morning writing on the 7 o'clock bus.

It's probably just the whole morning thing. I don't really wake up until noon, no matter that I've already put in 3 1/2 hours of work by then. I'm just going to have to start pulling out my notebook on my morning commute. My suppertime commute used to be fairly anonymous, but different friends have begun to collect on my route home. Yet I can't afford to give up two hours of writing time per day.

So I'll have to make peace with the idea that I'll start to be known as 'the notebook lady' even when I'm surrounded by the Bus Buddies. But this being the Maritimes, my oddness will not put anybody off of chatting me up.

Anyway, the Bus Buddies already know all about my oddness and love me anyway. Some things in life can't be orchestrated. The formation of the Bus Buddies is a gift in my life and I enjoy it so much I've let my morning writing fizzle away. But I have to be firm with myself.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to pull out my notebook. I'll perfect the art of running two mental programs simultaneously. One program will run my work in progress, and one will stay connected to the chatting and fun. It will probably be good for me. Cirque du Soleil, here I come.


Kelly said...

Man I don't know what bus you're traveling on but I've hardly ever had that experience in my umpteen years traveling Metro Transit. Then again, I usually wore a talk to me and die expression on my face. When I was awake that is. But usually the buses I traveled on were pretty quiet. Not a whole lot of socializing going on.

julia said...

My 7:00 bus is fantastic. The whole back section fills up with those of us who became the Bus Buddies, and we laugh, carry on, share stories, stay current with each others' lives. Even the 7:30 bus, which I take as well, depending on what kind of day it is, has pockets of Mini Bus Buddies. Don't know what it is. But I like it.

Annie Mac said...

What a joyous way to start the morning. Sounds like the seeds of good story people on that morning commute.