The discouraging part of trying to kick off a writing…presence…is the feeling of being to small to be noticed. It took me several years to identify as a writer without cringing as I said the ‘W’ word. Writers are the successful people who know how to look appropriately thoughtful in black-and-white pictures, or at least they’re the people who write every day without falling in and out of good habits like I do. I’ve finally got myself in a place where I’ll admit that I can wear Old Navy sweaters and write little bits on lunch break and the Metro and in evenings that I am not too exhausted (read: one evening every two or three weeks), and it still counts.
There’s a new cringe word now, though. I’m allowed to daydream about what it would be like to be an official, full-time writer, in the same way that I can daydream about how it would have been to be a professional ballet dancer, provided I had better turnout, extension and metatarsal arches, and lost 15 pounds or so. What I can’t quite bring myself to claim is an idea that such a life (the writing one, not the dancing one) is maybe something I could try to put together for myself in real life. I can’t quite bring myself to say the word “career.”
The thing is, if we’re being completely honest, my chances of being the kind of writer who makes a steady, comfortable income doing nothing but writing are comparable to my chances of going into dance full-time, even after a vigorous stretches-and-strengthening routine and a diet. There are so many of us out there, and not enough people buying books and magazines to support us all, or even half of us, or even one in ten. But we want to be those chosen few who can do it, the Margaret Atwoods and Neil Gaimans and Junot Diazes (although even Junot Diaz is listed teaching at a college and editing a magazine as well as winning all manner of prizes for his books, so there’s a thought), and everyone is slamming away at the same goal.
So what happens for me is I end up reading WAY too much in whatever is going on in my life right in that moment. If it’s a good week, that’s not too bad, cause if I write a story in a day, or send out a bunch of things, or my stats say a bunch of people read my blog today, then I’m all like, “YEAH! I’m the best. I’m going to win at all of this!” And I immediately rewrite all my goals to see what I could get done if I kept succeeding at that rate. And that’s where the mistake comes in, because if the next week is a slow blog week, or I’m too exhausted to write, or a rejection letter comes in, I’m all like, “Everyone got together and decided I am worthless at writing, and now they will shun me forever until it gets through my thick skull that I should never type another word ever ever again.”
And that’s where having other people to talk to helps a bit. I had the following exchange with the boyfriend last night:
Me: “No one read my blog today! They read the Midnight Snack story, and decided no one should ever read anything I write ever again.”
Boyfriend: “I don’t think they thought that.”
Me: “Then explain why everyone stopped reading immediately after I posted it.”
Boyfriend: “I think if you write another post, people will read it.”
Me (narrowing eyes): “Why? Are you going to tell all your friends to read it? Am I going to get a bunch of pity views?”
Boyfriend: “No, I think if you write another post, people will want to read it.”
All right, boy. It’s on. I have a new writing project in mind to work on today, and I’m not going to tell what it is right now because it’s in the earliest of stages and I make no promises, but I am working. And there is a new post today, so even if all it does is give me a tiny kick in the pants to do something worthy of having a writer-ish blog, that’s something, too.