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I pined over it for years. And yes, I could have used “dreamed” there, but, you know, dream is so everyday. Everybody dreams about stuff. Right now I’m dreaming about bucket full of buffalo wings hot enough to make me regret them until next week and a pint of IPA to wash them down. But in a few hours I’ll actually have eaten something, and then my dream of gut-blowing chicken morsels will subside for a time.
See? A dream can be as fleeting as a butterfly’s touch. So, no, when I thought of becoming a writer, I didn’t dream of it. My desire, instead, was permanent. Even when I wasn’t actively thinking about it, it tickled slightly, a maddening itch buried in the back of my head somewhere would just wouldn’t go away.
In other words, I yearned deeply to be a writer, which, by the way, is the exact definition of “pine”.
Of course, I’m pretty sure “yearning deeply” is more commonly something experienced by the lady-folk ready for a good, old-fashioned, um, romp with the muscular, hair-waving-in-the-breeze heroes of romance novels. So maybe that’s not the best way to describe myself.
Ahem. Yes, well, let’s never speak of this again.
Anyway, as I’ve been doing this continuously for over two years and managed to actually finish concocting a whole novel, it seems reasonable to pause, look around, and consider whether being a writer is everything I yearned for all those non-writing years.
The answer is pretty simple: completely, unequivocally, and without hesitation, Yes. It’s everything I though it would be and more.
I’ll spare you the laundry list of romanticized, saccharine reasons it makes me happy. But I will say that I knew I’d been right all along when I realized no matter how crappy a mood I was in before I did some writing, I’d be in an awesome mood after. It’s a short list of things in life that have such power: ice cream, a brownie, the perfect temperature beer on the back porch as the summer sun sets, this week’s People magazine.
Wait, maybe not that last one.
It’s gratifying these days to feel confident to call myself a writer and not be gilding the lily, so to speak.
And no, that’s not what I mean by “gilding the lily”. Get your mind out of the gutter!
That said, though, it’s not a perfect thing, the writing. Sometimes, even for as much joy as it brings me, I have to make myself sit down and start. It’s not always easy, especially in the “getting-going” phase, and let’s be honest, sitting on one’s ever-softening backside in a recliner with a lovely beverage while watching the latest episode of “Toddlers and Tiaras”* is universally easier than doing just about anything.
Inertia rules all, you know.
Oh, and the other thing that kind of bites is the whole not getting paid to do it.
Yeah, see, being able to call myself a writer is one thing. Being a professional writer, though, that’d be awesome beyond words. But, well, it’s also a whole other ballgame.
Attempting to become a professional writer is a fundamentally different task than just writing. Writing is the process of forcing yourself to start with a big empty nothing and yet create an entire something out of your twitchy brain impulses. There are no other parties involved, just, you, yourself, and your gray matter, and succeeding bring a warm glow of satisfaction. It’s the same joy that compels children to make mud-pies, sand castles, and Lego dioramas of the Red Light District (complete with Lego cops on the dole).
Err…maybe that was just me?
Trying to sell something you’ve written, though, isn’t quite as much fun. It’s like…well, standing against a wall and smacking your forehead against it over and over and over and over and over. Deep down you believe that sooner or later, surely to all things holy, someone is going to walk over, shake your hand, and stop you.
And, yes! Occasionally someone will stop. They’ll pull you away from your plastery punishment, look you over briefly, but then just say, “sorry, kid”, before repositioning you and setting you back into motion like one of those not-quite perpetual energy birds that dip their beaks into water. Why you aren’t the one and/or what they’re sorry about it is anyone’s guess, and they aren’t talking.
That’s okay, though. Anything worth doing is worth getting beaten up a little bit. If you’re faint of heart, weak of will, or have the intestinal constitution of an octogenarian after the 4:30 Early Bird special at the Grand Moon Buffet, trying to get published is probably not for you. And that’s fine. Lock yourself in an attic and write sonnets about Chicken McNuggets until your hand becomes stiff as the boarding school Headmaster, Mr. Howard’s, shirt collars—which, not incidentally, match his speaking tone.
Is it easy? Nope. Fun? Not always. Full of questioning and self-doubt. Check and check.
But you know what? That’s okay.
You want to write? Write. You want to get published? Keep writing, and don’t ever give up.
And that’s the only magic formula that’s ever going to work.
Well, unless you’re Snooki.
Thank God I can take the hard road, instead.
*I’m kidding of course. I might have seen some movies in my day I’m ashamed of, but I’d throw every TV in my house out before I watched one of those shows.