When I was 12, I came to my parent all geeky and worked up about a realization I had finally come to. I had my paper in front of me; I had neatly cut it out of my notebook and was going to present it as proof of what I was going to announce. I got to their room and cleared my throat feeling nervous but tingly and excited. When I got their attention I said it, “I know what I want to be when I grow up!”
They grunted and said, “Again?”
“No! No, this time I really know what I want to do. Those other things were childish dreams,” young-me said with serene wisdom.
“Okay, what do you want to be?”
“A writer! See? I wrote a story! Look!!” I shoved the papers at my parent and they glanced at it with a half-smile and a whimsical expression spreading across their face. I noticed they took a moment to compose their thoughts before saying, “This is really good but you need to be practical, Rochelle. What are you going to do? Eat the paper you write on? You need to get a job like a secretary, teacher, or even a nurse. This way you will always be able to support your family. Then, you can do this writing on the side in your free time…”
At that moment, my young spirit was crushed. I felt like everything I wanted, everything I had begun imagining my adult life could be was a lie. My parent had to be right. They were my parent; they would never tell me an untruth. Right??
Fast forward a few dozen years or so years and the little girl is not so little anymore. She’s reading and reviewing stories with and for fellow writers on Zoetrope. She’s working on story arcs, plot and theme with Sime~Gen. She’s attended WD Writer’s Conferences. She’s worked at local papers as a beat reporter and through that snagged a year-long stint at The New York Times as a legman. That young girl did A LOT of writing. Then she freelanced and did PR pieces for businesses, individuals, nonprofits as well as project work. A good portion of it was paid work, some were freebies to help get new clients. The now grown-up little girl realized that writing could be a form of income as well as a source of satisfaction.
In the last few weeks since the creation of this blog and the publishing of Leaping Out On Faith (which has a brand new awesome cover — thanks Aarluuk!!) and Opening Up, have been the most fulfilling and rewarding few weeks. Yet, things in my career were not moving as well. Is that just the ‘natural’ correlation that happens to writers and other creative people? When one thing is going along with no hitches, the things that were solid and steady begin to hiccup and falter?? Would love your thoughts.
How have you — other writers and creative people — found that balance point in your creative expression and lives so that you don’t feel like you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid?
While taking care of one’s family and responsibilities is not an issue for me (never was). I just wondered what things do you guys do to keep yourselves focused on your creative life even as you do what’s best for your families?