The One That Stumped Me
The other day someone asked me if I had always wanted to be a writer.
I have to admit that for a moment I was stumped.
I can remember as a child going through various phases of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a veterinarian until I came to understand how they took temperatures and that they sometimes lose their patients. I wanted to be a champion figure skater, but I have never been very good at skating. 🙂 I wanted to be a rock star, but then, who didn’t?
I actually went to school for voice. It took very little time for me to realize I was out of my depth with all the high level competition and my inner anxiety. Not a good match. So I added the business component and became a music business major. This sustained me through graduation. By then, I had done a summer internship with a concert promoter and learned that I really didn’t enjoy the music business. I went through the motions of some interviews with record labels in New York City and realized I was a country mouse and the big bad city would leave me cowering in a corner.
So I worked retail as many college grads find themselves doing. I was a department head and then an assistant manager within a year. I had fun. I enjoyed the people I worked with, but it wasn’t for me.
A friend of my mom’s suggested I apply with the medical billing company she worked for and it sounded like something different, so I did. I had absolutely no experience. I did that for five years working up to an account manager with the anesthesia client. Then the doctors stole me when their manager left the area and I have been here ever since.
At no point in this journey do I ever remember NOT wanting to be a writer. Sure I pursued various other goals and jobs. But deep in my marrow, I was a writer. I wrote in diaries; I bought and read mountains of books on all aspects of craft and publishing; I read Writer’s Digest and The Writer cover to cover every month.
What I think people who don’t write can’t understand is that there is a vast difference between being a writer and publishing. And a person can be a writer quietly in the background of their lives for many years without drawing much attention to it. This can be a very satisfying way to be a writer. The pressure to publish and sell is lifted when you are only writing for yourself.
Even though I am working on self-publishing my first book, I am still a writer for myself – just like I quilt and crochet for myself. I have always thought that if I do it for a living, it would be work, not fun. I enjoy these activities and don’t want them to be work. Writing is like that for me, too. I enjoy the craft, the brainstorming, the getting-the-words-down. I have recently learned how satisfying the fine polishing can be, how challenging the formatting.
To me, publishing is a labor of love. I have no illusions about the industry and the odds of financial success. I have no intention of quitting my day job. But I also have no intention of not writing.
Writing is who I am. It is in my bones and my blood. It runs silent and deep and keeps me sane. I may never be J. K. Rowling or Stephen King or Danielle Steele, and that is okay. I am still a writer. It was never a matter of deciding I wanted to be one. It was just always there. 🙂