Living the Dream, Writing in my PJs

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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!

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