For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to become a writer.
Wait, let me rephrase. I AM a writer. But my dream is to be a real-life, actually published, I-have-an-honest-to-goodness-book-with-my-name-on-it kind of writer.
I can vividly remember being a child, sitting in my bedroom floor, surrounded by colored pencils and construction paper and glue sticks and glitter, illustrating my latest storybook. I was about 9 when I had my “a-HA!” moment. While tying my latest creation together with twine, I realized just how happy writing made me. And I decided then and there that I was going to grow up to be a writer.
My dream has taken many shapes over the years. When I was in college, I wanted to be a journalist. I imagined myself interviewing famous celebrities for a big, important newspaper…or covering a local election…or potentially even taking my mad skills overseas in some world-altering Anderson Cooper way. Truthfully, I never wanted to be FAMOUS, I just wanted to write about important things.
As I’ve gotten a little older, my dream has morphed into a desire to live somewhere lovely. Some place where I can get up in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and sit down to write every single day.
The venue, my hairstyle, and the color of my laptop often changes in my little imaginary scenario. The cup of coffee and the writing part, however, have yet to change.
Something about writing–about creativity in general–draws me in like an extreme coupon cutter to a Sunday newspaper. I just HAVE to create. It may not be on a daily basis. But when I’m away from it for any period of time, I start to yearn for it all over again. Writing allows me to be my true self. My most complete self. And whether I’m sharing my thoughts with the world or not, it makes me feel like I’m contributing something, one ellipses at a time.
I’m aware that writing doesn’t always provide a steady income. Believe me. While I dream that my life as a professional writer will someday look like this:
…I know that the likelihood of that scenario is fairly slim. Don’t get me wrong–that isn’t me bashing myself or my skills, or lacking the conviction to go after my dreams. That’s just the cold and honest truth. I’ve read enough books over the years to realize that, while I could most likely write something that is publishable, the chances that I’ll ever be another JK Rowling are pretty minuscule.
In truth, I’d be thrilled right down to my toes to have a couple of books published and on the market, even if you could only find them in the discount bin at the bookstore.
When I think about what my professional life will look like in a couple of years, I’m more than happy to picture myself sitting at that desk overlooking the ocean pictured above. But when I turn off my inner cheerleader, and listen to my inner realist, I become more certain, the longer I go without being published, that my professional life will look a little more like this:
Don’t get me wrong. I love Target. I really, really do. But I really, really DON’T want to work there. Or any other retail job, for that matter. I worked retail for YEARS before I took my current job (which, it should be noted, really isn’t all that different than retail. Except now I get to deal with that lady AND I have to collect her bill when it’s late. Awesome.)
As Brian’s graduation draws nearer, and the time for change looms, the more I realize that I need to stop dreaming, and start doing. So that’s what I’m going to do, starting now.
Those of you who have been around for awhile may remember that I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last year. And I managed to bang out over 50,000 words in less than thirty days. So many of you have asked me what happened to that book, whether I’d put any more time into it after I’d spent so much time focused on it last November.
I told some of you that it’s unpublishable. I told others that it was a just silly idea I had, and that I wrote the story just to get it out of my system. I told a few of you that I thought no one would read it because it was too something: cliche, ludicrous, specific to a very small audience. I told most of you that I had toyed with it for awhile to try to turn it into something but it was just a whole lotta nothin‘.
More truth: I lied.
The truth is, after I hit the “send” button and submitted that manuscript to NaNo, I never touched it again.
I can give you 84 reasons why: the holidays came around, we got too busy, I turned into a lazy bum after nearly 250 hours of writing. But the truth is this: I Got Spooked. For the first time in my life, I was putting some serious effort into achieving my dream. And when I REALLY started thinking about getting published, my heart tried to pound out of my chest, my palms got clammy, and I dismissed the idea just to save myself from polishing off the tequila in the back of my liquor cabinet.
Well, readers, NaNo 2012 is right around the corner. In fact, it starts exactly 25 days from now. And I’ve decided I’m going to write the second half of the book I started last year. (Don’t worry, I checked the website to make sure I wasn’t breaking any rules. So long as I don’t copy and paste from any of my previous work, it counts as a new submission, even if it’s from the same idea.)
In order to jog my memory (since I haven’t read what I wrote last year since…well…it was being written) I printed out last year’s manuscript a few days ago. And can I just say…I nearly wept when I saw it sitting in front of me.
ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY PAGES. All mine. Every single word. Mine.
So, wish me luck, readers. The next few weeks will be dedicated to editing what I already have, and planning out what I’ll add to the story next. And maybe…just maybe…this little story will allow me to write another little story someday.
After all, that’s what I’ve been dreaming about since I was nine years old.