Just write . . . .

8 Dec

            Working for someone else has never been my “cup of tea.” Knowing this about myself, I began working for myself as soon as I was able to use my education and creativity to generate independent income. And my creativity and energy thrived in the 8 years when I worked for myself . . . . before the crash of the economy. *sigh*

            For the last 3 years, I’ve worked for someone else. Boy, has that been a wake-up call! My first job found me feeling undervalued (financially) in spite of the fact that I received consistent praise for my work. My confusion within the world of employment extended beyond that, however; because I was also consistently criticized for “caring too much” about the work I did. WTF?! Yup! Too much enthusiasm in a world of bureaucracy where sloth, the mighty dollar and not caring are the primary values; so THIS is what I went to school for! *sigh again* (In a lovely, ironic twist, the administrators called me in to give me an 8% raise just a month before I gave my notice and left for greener pastures. Funny how that goes . . . .)

I am a professional woman. My job requires an advanced degree and a professional license. I spent 7 years of my life and over $40,000 in college/graduate school and 4 years after that completing my internship just to end up here: learning about bureaucracy and just what amount of “not caring” is the optimum amount to achieve success in the working world.

            This year, I got a better job. It is a job with much less stress. I am paid better. And yes, I am aloud to be a little bit more enthusiastic. But I’m still working for someone else.

            Recently, after a disappointing round of events that reminded me that my enthusiasm and ambition are too big for me to successfully remain a *drone,* my husband reassured me: “You just need to take time to figure out what you really want to do.”

            The thought had never occurred to me before: what I really want to do. Hmmm. Somehow, I had believed that the 7 years in school and 4 more in pursuit of my professional license somehow sealed my fate as far as my career is concerned. The thought of using this job which I was educated for as the foundation from which to launch what I really want to do had never crossed my mind.

            Until last week; when I realized that what I really want to do is write. I already have a book out on Amazon.com. My unfortunate reality, however, is that it was published by a Vanity Press, which put themselves out as something different than a Vanity Press. They call themselves an Entrepreneurial Publisher. It’s the same lamb in a wolf’s clothing to be sure. I had not known that you should never pay a publisher to publish your book – and I was in a desperate place in my life, so I wanted to believe I had won the author’s lottery. And that $5,000 lesson had (sort of) discouraged me from ever thinking about writing again: except that I have this fabulously encouraging husband who always nudges me with reminders that I should be seeking things that fulfill me. He wants me to be happy and is continuously encouraging me to look in directions which I might find my greatest happiness. Refreshing, truly.

            He took me out to a Black Angus restaurant for a dinner for two and my first-ever taste of lobster tail. We were talking and I made a quirky little comment about some aspect of my life. He laughed. (He often laughs and tells me I’m cute when we talk.) This time, he said: “You should really write a book.” And for some reason, this time, my been-there-done-that, fatalistic attitude was quelled by a moment of enthusiasm in that quiet booth with the man that I love. And our conversation got me to imagining again. And, exploring . . . .

            While we sat there, he suggested that the subject matter of my book would be interesting to people and he told me why. I began to consider it. He suggested that I needed to think about the age of my audience before I start writing though; do I want to write for women my age or a slightly more mature audience (who would expect a slightly more modest approach to my storytelling style)? As I pondered the questions we discussed, he made another suggestion. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert seems to be pretty popular, and it is a woman writing about her life – something I am thinking about doing. Maybe I should take a look at it.

            Writers read, right? So, off I went to the library. I just wanted to get a feel for Elizabeth Gilbert’s style and see what all of the hubbub is about, so I picked up her book on CD. After all, it would only take about a week, with my commute, to get through the whole reading. At first, I listened for content. Then I started listening for writing style. And somewhere in between content and style, I got caught up in her story. In particular, it was one drive to work when I was listening to Liz’s musings about religion. I have lots to say about religion and the spiritual life. And is often the case, the writing caused me to go off into my own thought process.

            It went something like this: “Maybe, my book will be better written if I make it fiction. Then, I can deal with the spiritual issues in the way I would like to deal with them without the constraints of what actually is. But wait. I’ve often wanted to write fiction. But I don’t know how . . . .”

            Followed quickly on the end of that thought, was this thought: “But, I have permission to do anything I want . . . . “ This thought was followed by another, but I just have to make a caveat that says that “permission” wasn’t granted via my husband’s encouragement (although that doesn’t hurt), I’ve been going through a phase of learning and growing in my life that has taught me that I can do anything I want. It’s an interesting proposition to go through life until the age of 45 believing I am constrained. Only to discover that the only constraint is in my own mind . . . .

            Anyway, the rest of the thought: “Well, if I have permission to do anything I want, then I’ll take a class and learn how to write. Then I’ll write my novel!”

            Excited, I sneak off a text to my husband telling him of my plan to take a class and learn how to be a writer. His response?

                       “You don’t need a class . . . . Just write!”

             There it is . . . . A realization the moment I read his response. Right. I don’t need a class. I need to t-r-u-s-t myself and just write.

             I do know that there is a process and structure to good fiction writing. Just as there is a process and structure involved in everything that a person does well in life. So, yes – I’m writing. But I’m also doing something else. I’m recording my writer’s journey here. I’ll write about the ups and downs. What I’m learning along the way. What I’ve learned thus far (including a –later entry- about how the wolf in sheep’s clothing publisher pulled me in and ran away with my $5,000). I’m going to report on the work of other people and what I’m learning from them. I’m going to make my process public. It should be a f-u-n journey. And this is the beginning. Welcome to my world!

            Because: I am Just One Woman who writes! 🙂

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