I always wanted to be a writer. I cannot remember not wanting to be a writer. I used to carry multiple notebooks full of poetry around with me in high school. I carried them with me everywhere. Of course, I still have them. I can still tell you where they are. Most of my stuff is in a jumble, I can never find anything I need. But I know exactly where my poems and journals are. I have always wanted to be a writer.
That dream has finally come true! I earned my first paycheck writing! I know that I will always remember this day. I cried. I bawled and laughed and whooped up and down to my cats. As much as I have always wanted this, I never thought it would be possible. That thinking held me back for so long, too long. No more! Anything is possible! My words are worth their weight in gold!
Now I know that the only thing that was holding me back from being a professional writer sooner was thinking that I wasn’t enough of a writer. I didn’t write enough. Maybe I didn’t love words and correct grammar enough. I didn’t have a portfolio or a publication. There are plenty of reasons not to write. I had a couple of kids. I was too busy to write.
I didn’t feel like a writer. So, of course, I was not a writer. Stories where still writing themselves in my head, I just didn’t write them down. I wrote haikus, some of which got scribbled down. Most were only mild amusements tossed to the wind, a momentary pleasure of poetry. I counted the syllables out on my fingers and went back and forth until the image fit the structure. And then it was gone. It was more a form of meditation than writing.
Then I came across the statement, “The World Needs Your Story.” It spoke to me. I had been reading a lot of crappy books. I kept thinking to myself, “I can write better than that!” and “How did they get that published?” So I started to write every day. It was really hard. It is really hard. But I just started writing. I turned off my critic and wrote. And then I wrote some more. I wrote an entire novel! Eventually I wrote so much that I couldn’t stand the fact that nobody was reading it. It felt like a waste. So I stopped writing.
I didn’t touch my novel for almost two years. Eventually I grew bored of not writing so I had to start writing again. But I was not writing every day. It was hit or miss. My novel still lay dormant and completely unedited. I started a new book. My second novel got to be too difficult and sad. Writing about mental illness can be very overwhelming. I needed a break. I stopped working on that. I tried to still write as often as I could. Soon I found myself writing random things, short fiction, essays, and rants. Again it drove me crazy that nobody was reading what I was now legitimately writing. I was starting to feel like a writer. But don’t real writers have readers?
Then Jenna Marbles won the James Joyce Award. I case you don’t know who she is, just Google JE and she’ll come up. She has a billion hits on YouTube. The girl is hilarious. But is she a worthy of a cash prize, a trip to Ireland, and an award by a Literary Society? I think not. I think she’s funny. I’ve watched most of her videos. I show my friends her “Drunk Makeup Tutorial” all the time. But she’s not a James Joyce winner. Except that she is. Well, that inspired me! I’m not funny or as pretty as Jenna. I don’t wear enough makeup for YouTube. But I write a hell of a lot better than her!
So I started my own blog. Finally! Then I joined Twitter and started to shamelessly promote my blog. Now I have readers worldwide! WORLDWIDE! I get views on my blog from all over the world, every day. If that doesn’t make me a real writer I don’t know what does! Except that I was not making any money from it. As a few unnamed in-laws mentioned every time I talked about my blog, “Did you get any money for that?”
That is very discouraging. Lucky for me, I’ve been around that Artist’s gate more than once. I make dichroic jewelry and have had more than one run in with people who don’t lay much weight on the Arts. I didn’t want to be discouraged. I tried to ignore it. I tried not to let it into my head.
I decided to give the thousands of readers I have more weight than a person who doesn’t use a computer. Luddites be damned! Even if I was not making money, I was writing every day. I was getting Tweets from Michelle Norris of NPR. Surely that made me a writer!? All the books I read about writing said so! Still the not-getting-paid part was dragging me down.
I decided to imagine myself being paid. I started editing my first novel. I decided that I would finish it and self-publish online. I could get free books on my kindle to teach me how. Then I took it a step further. I envisioned a finished novel with a dust cover in bookstores. I know at least one bookstore that would surely carry it. (Hi, Elaine!) Just for the fun of it I started to say, “When I get my book advance…” I promised my family a trip to California and a kitten “when I get my book advance.” That certainly gave my kids encouragement to leave Mommy alone when she was writing!
I imagined going to California. I imaged a new black kitten. I imagined being interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. I wondered if I would have to go to Philly or if I could to the interview over the phone at my local NPR station. I wondered if they would fly me to Philly. It felt amazing to imagine. It was a fresh change from my usual worried soul. I didn’t know if positive-imaging was actually effective. But I decided I would just give it a try for a little bit. I put my skepticism aside. It was hard to do. I have always been a skeptic. I surprised myself. It can’t hurt to envision success! I kept writing. I kept editing. I kept Tweeting and posting on Facebook about my blog, shameless self-promotion!
Then I got my first request for a paid article. I almost thought it was a scam. It seemed too good to be true. I could tell that some people thought it was too good to be true when I told them. The pay seemed astronomical! (It’s really not; it’s what professionals freelance writers get paid.) I started writing the article immediately. Scam or not, it was not an opportunity I could not let slip by! I was going to write an excellent article even if I wasn’t going to be paid. I started at nine pm on Sunday and sent it to my editor Monday evening. By Wednesday morning I was a PAID professional freelance writer. Now I can finally believe that I AM A WRITER! Nothing can stop me now!
If you need me to write something for you, send me a message. I would love to write for you! I’m what I would finally call a PRO! My first novel will be forthcoming soon. I’m just waiting for the right person to read my blog. I believe that it is only a matter of time now.
I will see you in San Francisco soon! I’ll be wearing flowers in my hair!