Wednesday, September 26, 2012

it's a fart, it's a bird, it's a blogaversary! a (trying to be) writer reflects

I remember writing my first post.  Butterflies of anxiety flapped around in my belly--as if the internet would light up and sing when I hit "publish," drawing hoards of readers to my page like hungry bees on flowery honey.  I almost hoped they wouldn't come.  In some respects, the blogging train had left years before, chugging out of the station while I was buying a coffee at the student union.   How humiliating, I thought, to have a blog with just one post, let alone in the tardy year of 2011!   For months, my little archive taunted me, screaming "newbie!" with its meager list of writings.

Perhaps because of those anxieties, I kept my blog a secret--even from Steve.  It took months for me to share my writing with people I knew.  And while I wrote about our family, I shared little about me. 

I'm still a newbie, but after a year, I suppose I'm veteran enough that I don't worry about that stuff anymore.  Instead, it seems like a good time for a reckoning.

What am I doing? How did I get here?  My profile is vague and elusive, if you ask me. 

So today, the skinny: 

I suppose I embarked on this it's-not-a-career back in my twenties when I gave up a lucrative and successful job in business because of the boredom.  I wanted to pull every one of my very fine and numerous hairs out of my head so that I could count them during the long and tedious afternoons.  I needed creative work.  I wanted to write.

I went to graduate school--thinking if I wanted to write, I should study the masters.  Naively, Steve and I figured I'd be out of work for a year or so.   Two kids, a Ph.D. and a mere 10 years later, there I was, looking for a tenure track job as an English professor.  I had changed my life, raised my babies, published academic papers, and earned my degree.  After years of chasing toddlers  around the house while academic demands chased me around the clock, I anticipated the relative rest of raising elementary-aged kids while working a mere 40-hour week. 

I know.  I know it wouldn't have been just 40 hours.  I know it wouldn't have been easy.  But to me it seemed perfect nonetheless. 

Except there were no jobs.  

While looking for a position on the tenure-track, I worked as a part-time adjunct professor (1/4 the pay of a tenured professor, no job security, no benefits, no respect).  After two years of that, I could see the writing on the wall (literally: it said "This dump sucks" in faint yellow highlighter on my communal office wall at the university). 

So I quit the search and quit the job and became a tutor for dyslexic learners (Gareth has dyslexia),  wrote grants for a local non-profit, and wrote a book about all that stuff I just summarized in a few paragraphs. 

Geez - I'll never get it published now that I've given everything away!

If you have a creative impulse, then you already know that creativity is like gas.  You can't hold it in.  If you try, it just explodes uncomfortably inside you until you're bloated and cranky and needing to lie down.  Sorry folks, but you just gotta let it out.

So when I finished the book, I started this blog.  If we want to run with my unsavory analogy, then I suppose blog posts are like farts.  Aren't you glad you stopped by?  I hate that word, but it's true.  Writing this relieves the pressure, so to speak.  It makes me really happy.

Except there is a difference between a blogger and a writer.  Can you guess what it is?

Yup.  Money.

Unless you're dooce or The Blogess or some other such sickeningly successful scribe (the alliteration was unintentional until i threw that last word in on purpose), you don't make a dime as a blogger.  That's really ok with me, actually.  I mean, should I get paid just because I'm feeling flatulent? 

Which gets me, at long last, to the point of this post. 

Who am I? 

I'm a (trying to be) writer.  Which means I hope someone will someday publish my book.  And the next one.  And the next.  Which means when I'm not tutoring or mothering, I spend a lot of time querying agents and writing proposals, and editing, and formulating the next project, and reminding myself to stay the course. 

As a (trying to be) writer, I have to believe in myself everyday, despite the rejection letters that come in the mail like torpedoes aimed at the bare-naked hull of my confidence. 

It's hard.

With not enough respect and no income, (trying to be) writers resemble stay-at-home moms.  We birth words like they're babies, love them like we're mothers, and nurture them to maturity in hopes they will fly free of us and make a name for themselves in the world. 

So if you (like me) don't savor the idea that I'm farting on you when I post, think of these writings as hatchlings, teetering on the edge of the nest with untested wings at the ready.  Whether they soar, or fall flat, I want to thank everyone who has taken time to hang out in the canopy and cheer.

THANK YOU for a super fun year! ☺


  1. if a writer writes in a forest, and no ones reads it, is she still a writer?

    i, too, hope you are well read...because the world can use your voice, your vision and your humor!

    poot away, sister!

    1. ha! i will! thank you! :)

      and that's such a great way of putting it. i suppose we could also say, if someone poots in the forest and no one's there to...well, we'll leave it at that!

  2. Happy one-year anniversary, Deb! I agree with Meredith-- the world does need your voice, vision & humor. I'm sure glad you share your creativity in the bloggy world... and I can't wait to read your book some day soon!

    1. thanks jennifer! and also, thank you for reading and commenting for most of the year. you've been a great source of support and i have really appreciated it!