Like you I’ve been writing for a long time. There’s been a lot of ups and downs, fits and starts, but yet, I keep coming back to it.
My first journal entry was when I was about six and, if I recall, I started writing stories when I was in grade school. I forget what they were all about but I know I had fun with them. It continued in high school and I published a few short stories in our creative magazine. And I wrote editorials in our school newspaper. Then I gave it all up because, well, you know, it just wasn’t realistic.
Long story short, I was raised by a single mom and although I resented it, I came to understand later why she urged practicality in all career choices. When there isn’t anything to fall back on, you’ve got to fall forward into the most sensible cushion available.
So, of course, after college I chose to pursue becoming a Sociology professor. Well, I never said I was smart, did I? After that fell through, I landed in public relations…
And then I switched to advertising…
And then back to public relations…
And then to some freelance journalism..
And then, yep, you guessed it, back to public relations.
Which is where I am today some 18 years later working in Detroit for a well-known all-American Fortune 500 company.
Yes, I’ve made a real career of this PR thing and it’s been good to me too.
But, I still write… Technically, I write all day. At work I write messaging documents, news releases, speeches, strategy papers, etc.
And then at night I come home and I write essays, short stories, journal entries and I work on my novel. That’s right, my very own Great American Novel. Chipping away now at editing the first draft. Yeah, it’s really hard.
And I know some people are far ahead of us. I know you have friends who are probably already published, or screenwriters or journalists and they are all doing this full time. I’d just like to remind you that you, my dear, are different. You are your own story and the perspective you bring to your writing is colored by how you live and what you must do to keep living.
The publishing industry – as I wade into it more and more – seems to have a bit of a distain for the “aspiring writer” – but, sweetie, that’s just their own exhaustion and angst and it’s in every profession. Your job is to keep putting words to paper… when the kids are asleep, in your funny little obsessive Moleskine, on your laptop in emails you send to yourself for safekeeping.
Like me, you’ll keep studying and dreaming and hoping for that big idea that will hit like a meteor or the day when your “voice” just flows out on paper all perfect. But in the meantime, it’s word following word, ideas, notes, reading, more reading, editing, completing and then (in whatever format fits) publishing.
The only aspiring you should be doing is for greatness. And the only apologizing you should be doing is for not thanking yourself for the words you wrote today.