How I became a writer

I know what you’re thinking: Huh? Shouldn’t it be “Why I became…” and not “How”? And why does a person have to write about deciding to become a writer? Isn’t the fact that I wrote this blog proof that I’m a writer? Ah, if only it were this easy.

I have always written for fun, my first sci fi short was in first grade, “Space City.” When given an assignment to write 2-3 paragraphs and use 5 spelling words, I wrote a fifteen page mystery. When nobody would play Dungeons and Dragons with me, I read and wrote my own modules. I had dozens of made-up stories rattling around inside my head but never seriously wrote them down. Who’d want to read my silly little fantasies? I only wrote when the story voices became too loud and threatened my sanity. Or when I felt my head was too full and it needed a bit of emptying. Yet as soon as a story was out, more rushed in to fill the void.

But I never considered myself a writer.

I took a creative writing class in college. The teacher was horrible and if you didn’t write EXACTLY like she wanted, you failed. No room for creativity, just following her rules for literary short stories. No sci-fi, no fantasy, not even a just-for-fun comedy unless it was a literary satire.

So I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

I got married, had kids and still would put the occasional idea down on paper. Using actual legal pads, mind you, adding to old stories or making new ones. Outlining entire novels or merely a two page memoir. Whenever I wasn’t fulfilling mom or wifely duties, I could be seen pen in hand scribbling furiously, sometimes so fast I later couldn’t read what I wrote. When the kids were at soccer or dance practice, instead of chatting with other moms, I had my legal pad. Kids in bed, legal pad. Husband out of town and nothing on TV, legal pad.

And yet, I didn’t consider myself a writer

I started talking about my writing for the first time 10 years ago. I mentioned it to my husband who promptly said “That’s nice,” and turned up the sound on the tv. “Aw, he’s just a guy,” I excused. I told my kids who were excited but quickly moved on to the next thing as kids do. I spoke about it to my family. Most looked at me like I was suddenly cross-eyed and the rest were supportive but non-committal.  Except my mother. She had always wanted to write and was working on a novel of her own so she became my first true supporter. My best friend was the first to actually read something of mine and she became my second true supporter. And that was it with the support. But I wrote anyway like I always had. About a year later, my sister-in-law mentioned that she was going to a writer’s conference. A writer’s conference? What a curious notion! So I bullied my way into going with her and it was a truly magical experience. I came away for the first time determined not merely to write but try to publish something, anything.

I STILL didn’t think I was a writer.

But let’s take a moment to define what being a writer is. Or can we? I have heard everything from “You have written, therefore you are a writer” to “You are a real writer when you can quit your day job and support yourself with only your writing.” There are so many other definitions that the answer really lies within each person. For myself, the answer lies somewhere between these two extremes. Until recently I considered a writer to be one who is “traditionally” published, or, in other words, paid for their writing. Now I feel it is a bit different.

When my attempt at publishing came to a screeching halt, (as noted in the post Long Road), I began making excuses for not writing. Be there for kids, have to make money, husband doesn’t want me to be a writer, no time, too involved with other things. The universe had to practically hit me over the head to make me see what I was missing.

First -It has only been these last few weeks that I noticed that ALL my attempts at making money were designed to do two things: 1 – have time to be a mom and 2 – have time to write. A lightning bolt hit me. Only being a good mom was more important to me than writing.

Second – After this revelation, I realized I have been half-assing everything: earning money…half-ass; being a mom…half-ass; writing…half-ass; dealing with marriage..half-ass, etc. In trying to do everything, I accomplished nothing.

Third – When I decided to quit my job and “whole-ass” being a mom and writing, a HUGE weight was lifted from me and I was happy. But I still didn’t realize how important this was until I admitted it to a friend and worried that if I didn’t earn enough money at writing, my husband wouldn’t support me. She replied with “Who cares if you ever get published? The fact that you are happy should be enough for him.” She was absolutely right but I took it a step further.  Even if I never publish traditionally, creating my stories makes me happy.

Fourth – When I told a fellow teacher that I was going to a writer’s conference for the weekend, she responded, “I can’t think  of anything worse than being forced to write for a whole weekend.” My response was that I couldn’t imagine anything more fun!

Fifth, and more – SOOOOO many other things too many to name here helped open my eyes and change how I feel about myself and writing.

So, I am now writing what I want, being true to myself and my ideas. I would like to be published so others can enjoy my stories but if it never happens, so be it. I am writing because it is important to me and vital to my well-being. It is a part of me, something I need to do and enjoy doing. I will no longer ignore it or excuse it away as trivial or “only when I have the time”. I WILL WRITE DAMMIT!

And now, NOW, I finally feel like I am a writer.

Letting lemons lie

No tracking tip this week.

I have again gone without blogging so I am no longer am making promises that I will post regularly. The only good news is that I am finally moving forward with my life and things are looking up.

About all those lemons. I am finally learning to let some simply lie on the ground. I have always had problems with throwing away food and using all the lemons this poor tree overproduces seemed like something I had to do. But you know, I finally convinced myself that I CAN let some of them go.

The same goes with life’s “lemons”.  I don’t need to make lemonade out of all of them. I can accept that they are lemons and useless to dwell on it so I can acknowledge them and how difficult they are but let them go.

My friend just had her surgery for the breast cancer and all is going well. I am being supportive and cheerful for her and then going home and letting the sad go. Easier said than done but I am. It helps that she is a fighter and her prognosis is quite good.

My daughter is learning to manage her depression. I have learned that no matter how much I might want to, I have no control over her depression. All I can do is help her find and use the tools to help herself and be there with unwavering love and support. And you know what? She is managing and actually beginning to help herself and even though I will always worry, I feel hope that she will survive this.

I am doing what I want, when I want and yet still doing my mom and homemaker duties. I am writing again, an average of 600-700 words a day. I am exercising again and my health is finally turning around.

The biggest change in my life is my husband moving to another state for a new job. He is happier and, though it sounds awful, I am happier for the separation. I can take things at my own speed without having a judgmental dictator micromanaging my life. Ok maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration but the truth is, I was living HIS life, not my own. I was what he thought I should be and not myself. Now I am freer than I have ever been. I don’t know if this separation will help us find each other again or put the final nails in the coffin but either way, I am no longer just sitting here complaining. I am creating a life for myself.

And so far, that life looks pretty good. I know there will be more lemons but if I can’t make lemonade, I know now that I can just let them lie.