It’s my birthday this weekend (Happy birthday, Leanne! Why thank you!) and it’s got me thinking about life and writing and how I ended up here.
Books have always felt magical to me. I blame the underground library. You see, the elementary school I attended had a small, underground, literally, library that we had to take the stairs down to access. I think it was some sort of mini-basement room. It was always a cool temperature and I use to imagine there were more “secret” rooms that connected to it.
Logically, I knew the library wasn’t a secret and there weren’t other secret rooms, but being below the first floor made it feel as such. Keeping in mind I lived in an area where basements weren’t common in houses.
My school also had this larger than life vibe, in part because it was also a large, evangelical church (which I personally no longer resonate with, but that’s neither here nor there) and many of our classrooms were in the same building as the main church.
There were multiple buildings on campus, all with tons of rooms, and side rooms, and those dividers you could put in a room to split it up – and in my mind, there were always secret rooms (I mean, there just must have been, right?)
I can’t recall why, but there were times when we would sit outside this one building and a few feet from the sidewalk we sat on the landscape went downhill, then into a little valley and back up a hill with houses on the other side. (If someone knows the topographical word for this let me know!) I’d sit out there with the fog rolling amongst the trees in the valley and hillsides and imagine whole stories playing out in that fog (because fog is magical).
They weren’t being written down just yet, but they were being invented.
Fast-forward and throughout middle to high-school I had to take a 40-minute bus ride to and from school, where I consumed many a book (ate the pages whole, nom nom nom.) As well my room didn’t have a television, which was probably for the better, I watch way too much of it now and am working on that balance, but back then, it meant I stayed up until 2 am reading instead of watching television.
It was in high school, doing all this reading, that I knew I wanted to write. I didn’t question if it could be a job, if it could be profitable, if I could make a living writing – I knew I wanted to write.
I wrote poetry – some good, some… not so good.
I tried my hand at writing a language for a fantasy universe (something I’d like to try again in the future, but for now is put aside as it’s rather time-consuming!)
I wrote a few short stories.
But then it came time for college. I had to decide what I wanted to major in.
All of a sudden I wasn’t sure if I should pursue a degree in creative writing.
I’d been told there was no money in writing. It wasn’t profitable. You couldn’t really be a writer for a living.
I thought maybe I could get a job in something creative that had a more guaranteed salary. Something I could get a job in and not have my salary solely dependent on freelancing. So I went to community college and didn’t declare my major.
I’d also loved designing clothes (on paper at least) in high school, so I considered pursing that and ultimately got my degree in apparel design.
I knew there were jobs in apparel design and I liked designing – problem was, I found out I didn’t really like sewing. The field may have changed, but it’s one of those industries where you typically have to start out at the “bottom” – sewing, pattern design, errand runner, etc – typically you don’t go straight to being a designer. And there’s nothing wrong with these jobs if you enjoy them, they just weren’t for me.
Etsy has changed things a little, but unless you are paying someone to do the production part or have an angel investor you’re going to be doing all the production work and designing.
I ended up in a completely unrelated field and writing drifted away for many years, and I no longer had a support system for my writing to keep me motivated. Between that and depression, writing got left by the wayside.
Finally, I reached the breaking point because I wasn’t expressing a part of myself that was so important to me. Now I am pursuing my writing, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s the work I enjoy the most.
Is it paying the bills yet? Nope. But it is producing some income, which will grow because I’m working towards making it grow.
And every little win is getting me closer. Every new follower, every like, every piece I write and learn from.
And if you feel the same way, that your inner writer is crying to come out, give it a go.
Of course, don’t quit your day job unless you can afford to. But keep at it. Keep writing. Do whatever you can to find time for it.
Yes, you’ll need to learn how to build a following, how to market, all about rights and publications, and who accepts what (and more), don’t worry, I hope to cover some of these topics further on!
But if you really love it – it’s never too late to start.
I turn 35 this weekend, and I’m finally pursuing my dream. You can too.
Write on writer friends. Write on.
P.S. I’m happy to say I have someone in my life now who loves and supports my writing and crazy humor, I’m in a local writing guild, and have connected with many amazing people on social media in the writing community. If you’re on Twitter check out the #WritingCommunity, there are some pretty awesome folks there.