When I was 15 (and younger) I wanted to be a writer. I told everyone who would listen and many who wouldn’t listen. Assholes. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, from the basement, from the bus stop, from that corner where that guy almost abducted me while I was walking home and he stopped to ask me if I wanted a ride home and I said “No thanks” and then “acted” like I had mental problems. When you’re fifteen, you want to tell everyone what you dream about doing for the rest of your life.
You hit your 20s and you start to get very quiet. Everything else gets in the way. And I’m not talking about getting a real career. I don’t have a “real” job. I’ve worked in a library for the last 18 years at a job built for a high schooler. It’s not like I spent most of my adult life building skills and wealth. I’ve been in hiding. From my dreams. Those pesky bastards.
I reached my late 30s and instead of screaming about wanting to be a writing, I can barely mouth the words. And instead of saying I’m writing something, I say in a dismissive tone “I’m just scribbling some stuff. I scribble.”
Because I think my dream of being a writer is dead.
I joined this online group for writers. You submit your stuff for other writers to critique. It sounded like a pretty good deal. For four days I sweated over submitting the beginning of a story, just a sample of something I’ve been working on. I even threw up a little in my mouth when I hit the SUBMIT button. I kept checking my email, hitting the refresh button enough times to fade the lettering on it. I got my first critique last night. The woman corrected a bunch of my grammar. I’m a writer. Of course my grammar is atrocious, mostly in the forms of way too many commas and semicolons thrown in willy-nilly. She said my writing was “wonderfully descriptive” and I took that to mean “You are not a fraud, you are not a hack. With some practice, you may even become a good writer one day. Please don’t give up.”
And then the second critique today. Another writer said that the story didn’t hold her interest. My knee jerk reaction was “Well fuck you and your interest.” See? Right there. I think that’s why I should give up on wanting to be a writer. I can take correcting my grammar but if you’re saying my story doesn’t hold your interest then I’m no writer. Not a writer at all.
Man. I sure say fuck a lot.
I’ve been getting up at 1am to do my writing because that seems to be “my” hour, when the house is quiet and it’s just me and my music and my writing and maybe that crazy drunk woman walking by on the street. But I’m 38 now. If I haven’t gone anywhere with my writing it’s my own fault. I finally asked my very bestest friend Kathy to read some of my stuff and that took a LONG time for me to do because I hate writers who pimp their stuff on people. It’s a specialized kind of whoring that I don’t think I’m cut out for. I don’t think I’m ambitious enough to be a writer. I’m willing to put in the time but dudes, I’m almost 40 with not much to show for my life. Maybe I should put those ideas away and concentrate on stuff I’m good at like sleeping and Netflix marathons and pretending to be a kind person. I think I’m going to go head over to the valley of dead dreams where it kind of smells like a thrift store and there’s lots of people with dead dreams milling around. I see a cowgirl, a singer, an actress, most of the cast from every VH1 reality show ever…..