The Small Things of the Day

I discovered...that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart...was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace.
— E.B. White

I still can’t figure out why I love minutiae so much. I am keenly interested in what you ate for breakfast. Also what your kids ate, and what the kids are actually doing while you read aloud to them. I want to know the books you read together and the books you read to yourself, and what time you go to bed and what time you get up. Newspaper or not? Walk or not? Time for tea? Time for TV?

Reading about what E.B. White calls “the small things of the day” inspires me to no end. My current nighttime book is Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals, in which the daily habits and routines of 161 writers, painters, composers, poets, and other artists are described in surprisingly succinct detail. I eat this stuff up.

Many famous artists rose early, while many others slept late. Numerous of them had day jobs and wrote letters and entertained guests. Some were recluse-like and focused solely on their work to the exclusion of relationships. Some thought writing two, three, or four hours per day was a worthy feat, while a few of the most driven ones worked 10-12 hour days at their craft. Few responsibilities for children are mentioned, while long walks, late dinners, and sedatives for sleeping are recurring themes. Many great ones in the lot died young, while others lived long lives and produced art till the very end.

Over and over again, I see the cyclical nature of how these artists lived and how they worked. I am inspired to be Ginger, in all the minutiae that makes me me. I am also inspired to consider my habits, to own them, and to let them serve the writer in me.

The caring suggested the tasks; the tasks suggested the schedules.
— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life