I’m just gonna come out and admit it. I really thought being a writer would look something like this . . .
Yep, that’s Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. She lived in New York City in a cute little apartment and tapped out a successful sex column at her mac computer, which overlooked the street below.
I kinda thought that was gonna be me. I thought I would move to New York City and land a super cool job as a writer at a magazine. I thought I would wear really great clothes and high-heeled shoes and go to fancy parties and sip cocktails and then write about my adventures. I thought a lot of people would probably want to read about stuff like that.
I thought that’s what a writer was supposed to do.
Twelve years later, I live in my hometown in Missouri. Our suburban house has four bedrooms, none of which serve as an office. All our bedrooms house actual people because I have two amazing sons and surprise! We’re having a third kid too because we like to live on the wild side. When I do write, I write for a blog that I created. I decided one day that if no one would hire me as a writer I would find success on my own. Seven years later and I’m still writing for my blog that barely anyone on the face of this planet knows about. But somehow I still love it and spend time on it regardless of my lack of reach.
I have found that being a writer is much like being a regular person. I go to work at my full-time job that has nothing to do with writing. I come home and fix dinner. Or sometimes I stop at McDonald’s and get my kids chicken nuggets because I can’t fathom going into a grocery store after working all day. I wonder if I will ever be able to open a BBQ sauce packet without it splattering on my shirt – you know – the one I got on the clearance rack at Target. Because that’s where I shop.
It’s funny that I used to think about New York City so much. I researched this city the entire time I was in college because duh, that’s where you move if you want to be a real writer. Real writers don’t live in Missouri. But you know what? I’ve never even been to New York City. And somehow I still manage to write.
Being a writer isn’t about where you got your degree. Maybe that helps? I don’t know. In hindsight it may not have been the smartest decision to study journalism as a small college that no one outside of a 100-mile radius would even recognize. But I chose to study what I love and it so happens I love to write.
Being a writer was never going to be about Manolo Blahniks and cosmopolitans. I never should have based my view of being a writer on a fictional character but surely, SURELY, I’m not the only former college student that did that.
I have to look back and chuckle at myself. Losing the hopes and dreams of yesterday is okay. Because the hopes and dreams of the future are far better than anything my 23-year-old self ever dreamed up.
I never realized that being a writer might mean I would be myself. I thought being a writer meant I would be someone other than myself. And maybe that’s why it was such an attractive choice at the time. I had this belief that it could make me into a better version of me. That I could write all my troubles and sorrows away. It’s true – I’ve written about a lot of my troubles and sorrows here. And although some have passed many still remain. Or they decide to creep up after being in hiding for awhile. I think I finally realize that my struggles with anxiety and depression will last a lifetime. But it finally feels okay having come to terms with that.
Being a writer is thinking of a genius idea for a best-seller when you wake up suddenly at 2:00 a.m. Only to have it disappear when your kid comes in the room at 5:00 a.m. asking for milk. Then all you can really think about is how much you want to poke your own eyes out. So that book idea – no recollection three hours later.
Being a writer is typing in the kitchen while your kids watch power rangers, wondering why the heck your laptop is sticking to the table.
Being a writer is spending three hours crafting the perfect article and pitching an online magazine that you’d really like to write for and having them respond with, we think you’re really talented but we can’t pay in actual money that buys things. We will pay you in exposure. (which is like monopoly money for writers).
Being a writer isn’t about being Carrie Bradshaw. It’s not about New York City. It’s not about writing at a magazine.
Being a writer is about not quitting even though it feels pretty lame some days to still have this overwhelming dream of being a success with the written word. Being a writer is coming up with great ideas, then forgetting them, then watching someone else’s article go viral two days later on the very same subject you were planning on writing about. Instead you get to watch them be interviewed on the Today show while you sip lukewarm coffee.
But I’m not bitter. I’m just waiting. Sometimes impatiently. And I’m hoping. Hoping that being a writer wasn’t a silly idea I had when I was six-years-old. I sure would hate to feel like I’ve wasted a dream.
Who knows – maybe I will create that desk by the window set-up that Carrie Bradshaw made look so enticing. But instead, I’ll be able to look out the window and see three beautiful children playing in the backyard. Maybe very few people will ever know who I am or what I write or why I write. But I keep going. That’s what being a writer is about.