Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A New Journey: The Writing Life

I love to read. Books and stories have the ability to transport you to a place full of new languages, characters, places. The best books evoke an atmosphere, whether it is haunting and dark or ethereal and hopeful, and make you feel as if you are actually there. I have been an avid reader since I was much younger. The Christmas I was 8, I think, my sister Jeanne gave me a boxed set of Beverly Cleary's Ramona the Pest series and I was off and running. I always had at least two books going - they were usually folded open and left around the house. I read while I ate, I read lying down on the dining room floor (I still remember the feeling of the blue shag rug under my shorts-clad legs on a hot summer day like today), I read in the car on family vacations.

My love of reading and literature followed me into adulthood. When I went off to college, I believed I had to major in something "useful," so I chose biology, thinking I would go into research or some such nonsense. I was completely ignoring the fact that I am completely verbal and not mathematically oriented. Let's just say that on my math SATs, I more or less just got the credit for filling in my name. Well, surprise, surprise, I did terribly in my science courses my first semester (that and the freedom of being away from home may have contributed) and was forced to do some thinking over the winter break. I had taken an English class that fall semester, a survey course of English literature, and loved it and the professor. But I worried that English wasn't a "useful" major and that I would be unemployable after college. I didn't have the maturity or life experience at the time to understand that unless I wanted to train for something specific immediately, such as nursing or teaching, it was best to study something that I was interested in - and really, isn't writing a "useful" skill? So I plunged in and never regretted it. It was never a hindrance to getting a job after school and, in fact, my writing skills served me well as I worked in a variety of marketing communications roles.

Since childhood, I have wanted to be a writer, but again, my practical side got the better of me and I believed that I could never make a career out of it. I completely dismissed the idea and while I flirted with the idea in my twenties of combining my love of both writing and cooking and becoming a food writer, again, I was trying to fit my passion into a neat box. What I really loved was fiction for all the reasons I mentioned above - taking you out of whatever situation you might be in and plunking you down in Middle Earth (yes, I am a geek and love Lord of the Rings) or in a cave with Dracula, or in a hidden garden on an English estate. So I am here to state, publicly, that I am going to write fiction. Even if it never gets published, I'll write what I enjoy reading simply to do the same thing other writers have done for me: invite me into their minds and the characters and worlds they create.

In January of 2009, I was laid off from my job at a financial services firm. It was a devastating blow to someone who prided herself on being the good girl and the dutiful employee. Three weeks back from my maternity leave, I had recently found out that I was pregnant again, my third child in as many years. I clearly remember sitting in the HR person's office while my boss delivered the news. My first thought was I'm going to write that book. I didn't know what that book was yet and I hadn't even really been writing at all at that point but I knew that that would be my next step. Here I am two years later, kids are a bit bigger and while it's not the greatest time to embark upon this new adventure, I've learned that life rarely presents golden opportunities and that it is up to us to make them. It's just like having children - there is no right time to have them. You can plan the hell out of having kids and just about everything else in life, but the reality is you have no control and time is not on your side. You just gotta grab the bull by the horns and do it. Git R Done.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. This is so brave! I've felt the same thing so many times. Why do we feel like we "have" to do one particular thing? And why is it that writing seems an illegitimate pursuit while something science-y and math-y is legitimate? F that. We only have one life and we should go for it! Maybe being in our 30s will provide that confidence. Anyway - looking forward to witnessing this journey, whatever it will bring, sharing the adventure and supporting you every step of the way! xoxo