“Writing is like sex. First you do if for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.” -Virginia Woolf
When I was a child, I wanted to write movies. I’d sit in my backyard and watch the lazy flow of Minnehaha creek and write movies in my head. I didn’t think of them as stories but as movies as my thoughts were in pictures not words. When I got a little older and started school, I tried to write down some of these movies and found the task impossibly difficult.
Primary school was a terrible experience for me and by seventh grade I had given up on the idea of education. A few years later, while I was in culinary school learning a trade that didn’t require writing, I discovered that I was dyslexic. Suddenly, my previous academic failures made sense.
My career as a Chef was glorious and short lived. Within eight years I found myself unable to continue cooking and stay sober. I struggled with relapses and the fear of leaving, what at the time felt like the only thing I was good at, was paralyzing. I kept telling myself if I just worked a good enough recovery program, I could stay sober and keep cooking. Then a knife slip made the decision for me. I severed a very necessary nerve in my thumb that left my hand disabled.
The next decade was painful but liberating. I went from job to job barely making enough to support myself while struggling through basic courses at the local community college. It took me five years to get to the level I should have been at in high school and five more years to finally finish my education with an associate degree in liberal arts (anthropology) and a bachelor’s degree in science (Business Intelligence).
Once I learned how my brain works, academics became a lot easier for me to navigate. I graduated summa cum laude with a degree that required a high-level of technical writing and mathematics, this is something I couldn’t have even imagined for myself a decade earlier.
In January of 2022, I decided to quit my corporate IT job and recalibrate my life and priorities. Since then, I’ve struggled to become the writer I’ve always wanted to be. My first book is in the final stages of being published and will soon be available for public consumption.
The process of writing a book was akin to feeling something grow inside me, giving birth to all the characters, creating a story to string it all together, nurturing said story into a book, then handing it to strangers who only want to make money off it. Once my manuscript left my hands, I felt a profound loss. I haven’t seen the final version of my book yet, so I am leaving room for optimism. But one thing is certain, it is out of my control what happens next.
While I’m excited for my book to be published I am also fearful. My wants conflict with each other. I want everyone to read it, but I don’t want anyone to misunderstand it. I want my truth to speak through the characters, but I don’t want people to think I am my characters. I want to be seen but I don’t want anyone to look. I am in conflict against myself.
Writing a book was an emotional experience for me. I do not fear criticism nor offending someone with my words. My biggest fear as a writer is to be misunderstood which by default means I am afraid of being seen as I am, not as I want to be. So, I started a blog to which I committed to write an entry every day. What I may lack in quality, I will make up for in quantity.
At first my blog had no audience and then strangers started to follow it. It felt weird to have strangers read it but not my friends, so I started to share it with a few people in my inner circle.
Then as Virginia suggests in her quote, I started to write with my friends in mind. And then my audience grew. Which is the desired outcome, right? This morning I found myself checking how many people read my posts and wondering why they didn’t hit the like button. This is not the type of person I wish to be.
The little girl who sat by the creek thinking up movies in her head did know or care about blogs or “likes” or book publishers. She only cared about the artistic vision that ran through head like wild mustangs. That little girl grew up through so much hurt and disappointment that she almost lost herself completely. Until now. I have set a path for her and invite her to try once again to fearlessly share herself with the world.
Today, I will spend time with my younger self sitting by the creek and I will ask her what she wants to write about now that all the obstacles that once limited her have been cleared.