Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This (So Called) Writing Life

I have been writing all my life.

I come from a long line of writers: my dad, my sister, my grandmother. Each are and were amazing in their own literary ways. I'm not as talented as any of them. Not by a long shot.

Nevertheless, I wrote through every grade of school. I wrote for every yearbook, for each newsletter, for any essay contest. I wrote for the Journalism Club. I wrote letters, I wrote in journals.

I went on to to college and wrote for my degree. I wrote for the debate team. I wrote for the college radio station. I tried to write my way into graduate school.

I found jobs where I could write. I wrote for publicity. I wrote for business development. I wrote for marketing. I wrote for the Visa Check Card. I wrote for co-workers. I wrote for clients. I wrote for advertisers. I wrote for focus groups.

I tried to write my ticket to grad school again. But it wasn't meant to be because...

I had a baby.

I became a single mother.

And I started a small business.

Then, I woke up one day and I missed writing.

I wrote a blog. I wrote another. I wrote a third.

I wrote in Google documents.

Every night before bed, I would write. About everything. About nothing.

I figure that over the last two years, I've spent more time with my laptop than any one person, except Ben. Is that bad? I don't know. I think sometimes, that instead of giving my heart out, I've focused on writing my heart out.

I've written a lot. Blog posts that I never publish. Letters that I never send. Dreams that I can never articulate. Fears that I can only share with my beloved friend, Google.

For me, writing it coping. Writing is therapy. Writing heals. Writing doesn't judge. When everything else is amiss, writing brings me back to my center.

It's been eating at me, this sense of not quite doing what I should be doing with my love for writing. So...

Last week, I had a phone interview with a national journalist. He knows about my background; he's read my work. We talked for ninety minutes. "This is your passion, isn't it?" he asked.

I think it is. But I have a lot of passions.

He shared some ideas, gave me some input, scared the shit out of me.

I could go anywhere with my writing. I could?

I could go to San Francisco. I could go to Los Angeles. I could go to DC.

The journalism field is as crazy as any other industry right now, but there are opportunities. Good opportunities. Right now. Like as in, next week.

I could write for a major publication. I could go to a newspaper, as he had. Work my way up to splashy freelance assignments. Hit the coup de gras of journalism: Vanity Fair.

Or not.

I don't want anything that grand. I still want to be a mother. I still want to have a hand in wellness. I still want to teach. Vanity Fair writers are never home and when they are, they're always writing. There's not much time for anything else.

Besides, I'm here in Sacramento for while. The Bay Area, I might be able to swing. Maybe. But it would be hard.

We talked about the current economic landscape in Sacramento. "A desert," we agreed. A city with a decent newspaper that's about to fold. Not the best place to be for an aspiring writer.

I hung up the phone feeling a little disheartened. I experienced a brief moment of anger, over the fact that I am here and that the writing jobs are there, there and there. Then, I let it go and focused instead on the online opportunities that I could pursue.

This morning, I got a text from a client. "My friend (who owns a local PR firm) wants to see your writing samples."

I called her up. Yes, the PR firm is here. Yes, they need writers. Yes, they are interested. "You're such a great writer," she said. "I thought it might be a good chance for you."

When I had to go back to work after my divorce, it would be an understatement to say that every door relating to pilates, yoga and wellness opened up for me. I felt like mountains were moved and opportunities were practically served up on a silver platter. People gave me training, they gave me resources, they gave me chances.

I have always looked back on that time in my life with complete amazement. And more than once, I asked, "Why me? Why do I get to be so fortunate?"

Now it feels like it's happening all over again.

Not long ago, I read "The Alchemist." I was about fifteen years overdue in reading it, but it probably takes a "late 30s" mind to really absorb the messages that this little book imparts. My takeaway from it was this: The Universe - or God - wants to give you what you want. Whether that's a rewarding career, a loving family, eight children or just a pile of treasure in the middle of the desert, it's the Universal way to reward those who really work hard for the thing (or things) that they most desire.

But there's a caveat. Most people back away once they get thisclose to what they want. It's too scary. It's too real. It's outside of their own personal "status quo."

We all know someone who has bowed out of a wedding, last minute, or who has bailed from the seemingly perfect relationship. I know people who have been offered long-awaited, killer promotions and they've walked away. I also have friends in my life who want children but are terrified of taking the step toward parenthood.

Getting what you want is scary.

I so get that. I'm right there. I can feel the edge of the jumping off point. It's not a soft surface to stand on and it will likely not be a soft place to land.

But I need to do it. As I push up against this milestone birthday (30, thanks for asking!) I'd love to have one more "real" accomplishment crossed off my list. Not a new haircut, not a new car, not another trip and most certainly, not a new outfit!

Something I can call my own. Something that is separate from everything else. Something that could lead to other things. Something that I pour my heart into and bust my ass for.

I have a few friends who are pushing the envelope this year. One is moving to New York City. I'm terribly envious and proud of her, all at the same time. Another is training for her first Ironman. I'm not envious of her in the least bit. Yet another is taking on a live-in boyfriend with his small daughter, in a home that she is purchasing. I tried to talk her out of it.

When I surround myself with people who take healthy risks, I feel inspired. I'm not the most aggressive girl on the block, but I don't like to back down in the face of fear either. It's always a difficult balance to strike. The friends around me who do great things push me to see that I can too and that the discomfort associated with being a go-getter who also allows for a healthy amount of surrender, is okay.

So, I'm off to write for the rest of the summer. I have a list of assignments - the biggest one being the creation of a web site for wellness - which is a huge and daunting task.

I may go nowhere with this. I may go everywhere.

Being the person I am, I may find somewhere in the middle -someplace that feels really good - and stay a long, long while.


Lish said...

Wow! I really needed that post today. I'm going to read it a couple of times more. Later, when I need it again.

I hope we're on for tomorrow night so I can hear everything in person (!), but let me know if you need to reschedule. I sent you a message, but I don't know if you got it. :)

Janeen T, aka: Ben's Mommy said...

Lish, you inspire me...that one post you wrote about doing something big was part of the impetus behind my post. You rock, girl!
And yes, I need to re-schedule as I totally messed up on my dates. Check your FB messages.

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王名仁 said...


Second Chance Moon said...

I'll say WOW also! So inspiring and just awesome that the opportunities are presenting themselves for you. Grab them!

婷珊 said...

Nothing comes from nothing.............................................................

ELG'S Dad said...

First off, I'm a closet fan of your blog. Mary (Mom) and Marcia made mention of it. Second, you are an amazing writer! Your posts are funny,inspiring and motivational. I was especially touched (Kleenex) by your "One Third" post. It made me really take stock in my relationship with the girls. I wish you nothing but the best as you push yourself in pusuit of your dreams and goals. You'll be great! Take care, Brian L.

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