Friday, August 31, 2012
Look What I Did!
Do you see it? Do you? No, not the strategically placed green bell pepper, though don't you love the options in some paint programs? And not the fact that we recently had to fill out customs forms to enter into the UK...still having trouble? Let me try again.
It says, WRITER...where it asks for your occupation, I filled in WRITER. Right there. On that very official form, where I'm pretty sure if you lie they send you straight to prison. Because what would the Queen think if people started flying into her kingdom all willy nilly saying they're copy editors and pilots when they're really unethical taxidermists and dog assassins? I understand some people's reasons to be dishonest, but hey, you chose your own path.
Where was I? Oh yes. I'm a writer now. Officially. Not sure? Just follow that fancy arrow (painted with the paint option actually called pine?). I mean I've always been a writer, but this is the first time in my life that I've declared it as my occupation. This is the first time I've written it down like that. And I realize this will mean nothing to the man who reads over my tiny customs form while he asks about the nature of my visit and duration of my stay in the UK, but it means a hell of a lot to me.
I realized only recently that I was pretty vague in a previous post about the big shift that's taken place in my life in recent months. In the post Bubbles, I mentioned being "released from soon-to-be-no-longer commitments, and therefore able to dive headfirst into the new ones," and I now realize this was not just vague, but downright fuzzy. I had reason to be vague then, as I hadn't yet done the official paperwork to resign from my job, but now when asked what I do, I can no longer say that I'm an educator who works with children with special needs. Now, all I can say is what I've been longing to say all my life...I'm a writer. And if I could just run away at that moment, all would be well, but when you want the people in your community to not to question whether or not they should have ever trusted you with their children, that's not really the best move. So back in June when I made the decision and signed the form, thus confirming my tiny corner of gossip that circulates at the end of any school year regarding who's leaving and who's coming back, the questions began.
Every teacher, aide, specialist, & parent I know at work: I hear you're leaving us. Are you moving?
Me: No, no, we'll still be around. I've leaving to pursue writing full-time. (Gulp. I've said it OUT LOUD. Deep breath.)
ETAS&P: Really? That's great! What do you write?
Me: Fiction. (Smile)
ETAS&P: Oh, what sort of fiction?
Me: Um, nothing genre. I'm working toward literary fiction, but more accessible. (Smile & nervous laugh)
ETAS&P: What are you working on right now?
Me: A few short stories and a novel. (Heart fluttering)
ETAS&P: Oh yeah? What's your novel about?
Me: Umm... (Panic & racing thoughts...how to describe) It's um...it's a young adult novel, you know. Angst, heart break, that sort of thing. (Pretty sure I don't want to say 'sexual abuse' out loud in an elementary school.)
ETAS&P: Sounds good! When will it be out?
Me: Ha! Well? Um, I'm not sure. It's still in the works. (Feeling faint)
ETAS&P: Well let me know. I want to buy a copy!
And whereas this conversation was wonderful and encouraging, it made me realize how very real my decision was and that this time, I'd really have to commit. Because now it wouldn't just be me I'd have to tell if it all goes down in flames, but every person I worked with, too. The good side of everyone suddenly knowing your plan: support. The bad side: pressure. But pressure is good, no? Pressure is motivating. Let's hope!
Which brings us back to the top of this post, the fact that one insignificant act of filling out a form suddenly smacked me in the side of the head and made me start to see myself as a real writer. One, because I don't want to hear the Queen screaming, "Off with her head!" and two, I wrote it without thinking. That was the most important part...I just wrote what has always been true, whether or not there are paychecks headed my way. Yet.
So thank you to all the amazingly positive people around me who believe I can do it. I'm incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to chase this dream and I aim to succeed.