This is THAT time…
This is that time when I go to my day job and feel like I’m spinning my wheels, barely able to keep myself from brainstorming about my work in progress, and completely and utterly unable to keep myself from checking my stats on Amazon and Goodreads. When those turn out to be less than thrilling, I flit over to Facebook to check in on the author groups I belong to, desperate to feel some part of that community during the dregs of my working day.
I feel like I’m keeping a secret. I am a pretender in the corporate world. I lead dual lives. I get up at five o’clock every morning and write for at least an hour before my tiny boys lift their heads from their pillows and transform into adorable — but incredibly, ridiculously demanding — small humans. When they get up, I pull on my disguise. I paste on the Mommy face and don the heels and dress that I’ll wear to work. I pour cereal and make lunches and then go to work and talk about sequestration and proposals and furloughs, because I am a government contractor. But not really. What I really am is a writer. But right now, it’s practically a secret.
My husband is supportive, but he tells me that for now this must be treated like a hobby. A hobby that costs money sometimes (because cover design and blog tours and conferences do cost money…) And he tells me that he supports me. But that this is a hobby until it proves to be something more.
If I was a praying woman, I’d be on my knees on a daily basis, appealing to anything out there in the cosmos that might help to turn my dreams into reality.
But short of miracles, I have something else: confidence.
Everything good that has happened in my life has happened because I wanted it, and because I made it happen. And I have to believe that this will be no different. In writing and publishing books, I am laying out a careful plan. Sure, there’s a lot of trial and error involved. But I believe that my plan will be successful. Because I simply can’t see an alternative.
I turned 38 and realized that I hadn’t even tried to do the one thing that I’d dreamed my whole life of doing. I’ve always been a writer. But I was the delusional (young) type who believed that inspiration would one day hit. That one day, everything would change and I’d have the BIG idea and write the BIG book, and that would be it. I neared 40, realizing that I hadn’t even tried to achieve the only thing I’d ever felt certain that I wanted. And so I sat down to write. And it was hell. My kids were tiny. An infant and a toddler. There was so much else going on in my life that it barely made sense to have a dream, let alone try to achieve it. I’m a military spouse. That means that my life is nothing if not uncertain. At least we’re to the point where I’m relatively sure that my husband will be staying around… but not much else is ever sure.
I began stealing time. I got up early. I stayed up late. I took a whole weekend at a hotel in Alexandria to write because my husband understood that I needed something. I knew that I needed THIS.
And I published in some journals. I wrote some stories that I thought were pretty good. I self-published a collection that I still feel proud of. I began moonlighting as an editor for a couple of small presses. I swallowed my pride and queried one of them. I got an offer. I queried again, on a whim, and got an even better offer… for a series…
And then I self-published another book. And formed a plan, and began to see a path…
And now I am stumbling down that path doggedly, ignoring the boulders that are strewn in my way. I go through the motions at my “real” job and nod when my husband tells me that he’s glad I’m finding fulfillment in my “hobby.” But when I am alone with my children, and they ask me what I do, I tell them that I am a writer. That I write books. And the joy that fills me when I utter those words — and mean them — is indescribable.
My journey toward being a writer has been lifelong. 38 years of longing and two years of doing. And in those two years, I feel that I’ve come to know myself and realize myself in a way that I haven’t in all the years that have come before. Even if this journey amounts to little commercial success (God forbid…), I will at least have the joy of knowing that I realized and pursued my purpose.