Friday, July 15, 2011

Committing to Writing. Where Are You in Your Journey?

I've always wanted to be a writer. Other than being a professional football player, I can't think of anything else I've really ever wanted to be in my life.

For what it's worth, I became neither. Not many of us actually become what the younger versions of ourselves desire to be, and for those of you who did become the adult our child selves dreamed, I salute you. You are truly the lucky ones.

For the rest of us, life intervened. For whatever reason we moved on from our dreams and ended up here. I was building seats at an automotive plant when the lure of being in rock and roll grabbed me and, well, here I am.

That sounds a lot more exciting than it really was. It was a lot of hard work and travelling in the least of best conditions. The stars are the one's with the jets and private buses. The rest of us did what we could to make the best of cramped quarters, surly drivers, angry managers and an incredibly diverse makeup of personalities. Imagine Carnies that are cleaner with more tattoos and even worse language.

I'm not complaining. I was able to enjoy a unique life that few get to see and, let's face it, made for good bar stool conversation. "What do you do?" is asked. "I'm in the entertainment lighting industry." is responded. "What's that?" is asked with a genuine curiosity this time. "If you've ever gone to a concert and noticed all of the lights flashing around? That's what I do." is replied. "Wow, have you ever met anyone famous?"

I think you know where it goes from there.

But the lure of bright lights faded and I became a desk jockey in the same industry. Now I deal with surly clients and angry salesman and a lunatic manager.

Again, I'm not complaining. I have definitely taken better care of this industry than it did me but it has paid the bills. Yet all through the past 20 years there was something that kept trying to claw its way out of me. The story that I wrote as a teen was always lingering around and knocking on the inner walls of my brain looking for a door marked exit. Every so often I would get a jolt. It would be a new line. A new hook. A new chapter. Characters would develop on the long drives to work and splendid prose would just spill out of my mind while in the shower. I'd find myself saying "Wow, that was cool!"

But nothing would come of it. And the older I got the more it continued to push open door after door inside of my mind. The urgency of the story that started as a walk down many halls had become a full on sprint as it frantically ran around each turn and twist looking for a way to get itself ON TO THE PAGE!

I started talking about writing. The now-ex said I should do it but she was supposed to say that. I would mention it to friends, but I don't actually have a lot of those and, like my ex, they want to be supportive in spite of something being a bad idea.

I hesitated some more but the need to get the words out was still pounding those walls.

I started Googling things about writing. I wanted to learn about what it would take to do what a writer does and that led me to start seeking out writers on Twitter and following them. As an aside, you are an amazing bunch with way more talent than I believe I will ever be able to live up to. But that fear is in all writers, no?

I enjoy photography and was already following a good deal of photographers, and one of them, who is also a life coach, kept tweeting things about just doing it. Take the leap. Nothing finishes without starting. All kinds of inspirational drivel that my old self would read, chuckle and nod approvingly at. But then these things started to speak to me. These weren't directed at me mind you. They were for anyone listening. But this time I heard.

I added "aspiring writer" one day to my profile on Twitter. I thought the word aspiring was appropriate seeing how I had never written anything more than an email or Facebook post. Who was I to call myself a writer? And far be it from me to offend actual writers. But, crazy as this sounds, that VERY same day, an angry tweet popped up in my feed from a writer I was following, again to anyone who was listening, that read, and I quote:

"Good morning, Friday. My PSA (again) for the day is DON'T be an "ASPIRING WRITER" F****** OWN IT. Be a WRITER. Write!!"

I promptly changed my profile to read "writer".

I took out my iPad in my car the next day and downloaded Pages. I opened the program and typed "Chapter 1". Fear gripped me in a way I had not experienced in a very long time. What the heck was this? I'm typing words on a screen. No one was looking. Why was I afraid? Was it fear of failure? Failure from what? This is never going to see the light of day so no one will ever judge me, so why was I afraid?

The door marked exit had been penetrated and the sunshine hit it square in the eyes. It squinted and pulled back from the bright light, holding a hand up to block the suns rays, but it forged forward, breathing heavy and lumbering as if it was tired and unsure.

The words poured out and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before in my entire life.

I'm very early in this journey. I hope to take you with me as I travel and maybe, with a lot of work and a bit of luck, the destination will be every bit as gratifying as the first step was.

Join me, won't you?

I've always wanted to be a writer.


  1. Just reading this post, I can already tell you know how to use words. You've got the heart, knowledge, and irony that all writers' share. I look forward to seeing where you go from here, and I wish you luck!

  2. I wanted to say that I really, really enjoyed reading this post. Your talent is obvious. I wish you the best on your adventure :)