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Tag Archives: writerly life

What kind of writing do you want to do?

20 Jan

Turning 29 did something strange to me. I’m not lamenting getting older, and if anything, I’m looking forward to what the rest of my life will bring. So many adventures, loves, opportunities. But there is something about approaching 30 that shakes my core whether I want to admit it or not. If only because it is the end of an era, simply a numerical one, but an era nonetheless. This is the last year of my twenties, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what that means to me and how I want to move forward

I have more or less finished with vet tech school, and I have been looking into what my next step is. While I love my job, it’s not enough for me. I want bigger things. I want more education. I want to move up in a field. I want to always feel good about the things I put out into the world, and I had to figure out what that means.

I circled back, as I always do, to this notion of being a writer. I decided I was going to fully invest myself in it moving forward. So I revamped my linkedin, started applying to every writing job I came across, read an endless sea of articles on how to be a published writer. I networked until I found some real life writers in New York.

Through a friend of a friend, I met Katie. She was so kind and helpful and agreed to meet me for drinks so I could pick her brain about the writing industry in New York. We met at a bar in Midtown, and I asked her about her writing path. She told me about journalism school, about endless internships while waitressing, about small gigs, and about eventually landing an assistant editor position for Yahoo News. She was smart, interesting, impressive. I was excited to be talking to her, thinking, “I could do that!” Then, she asked me, “What kind of writing do you want to do?”

Just about the most obvious question to ask anyone pursuing writing. But my mind was blank. I muttered about my blog, about books, about short stories, poetry, essays. All the things I’ve written over the years and written well. I’ve had numerous writing projects. But what kind of writer did I want to be? I simply didn’t have an answer.

Over the next couple of weeks, I thought about this question that I don’t think writers ask themselves enough. What kind of writer am I? I managed to get a couple of freelance, part-time offers. The first writing blog posts for business websites, the second writing click-bait articles about love and relationships. Real writing jobs! Things that would give me a byline. That foot in the door. On the subway train to the Love and Relationship job, I brainstormed article ideas. I could write about break-ups (I’m a reluctant expert), I could write about the types of guys I’ve dated. I could write about epic fights and moments of love and following one’s heart.

And then I had the answer to that question. “What kind of writing do you want to do?” Not this, I thought. My personal relationships and life are worth more to me than $12 an hour. I didn’t want to give away articles about my sexual history, about the men I’ve loved, about the men I failed to love to some start-up website. Yes, it was a foot in the door. It was a way to get published. And, yes, a part of me does want to write about all of that, but on my own terms. That website is not the kind of writing I want to do.

In December, I wanted 2016 to be the year I became a real writer. That I got published and paid to write. That I could earn some sort of badge I could show everyone that I am a writer. But in January, I realized I don’t need that. Writing, reading, words are fundamental to who I am, and they always will be. I’m 29 and unpublished, but I haven’t formulated anything I want to put into the world. I haven’t yet figured out what piece of my soul I want to share and how. Maybe it will be poetry. Maybe I’ll finally pull together a novel about my crazy Upper East Side vet tech life. But I’m learning to be more gentle with myself. There’s no deadline to be a writer. I am a writer, as much as I’m a girl with freckles. It’s a part of me. I can’t sit at a desk all day writing like some writers do. I write best after a long day or a stretch of days on my feet, absorbing the people around me, the world. As much as I’ve read and researched other people’s writing processes, that’s mine. Slumping in near-exhaustion at my desk and writing for a couple of hours before I pass out. And maybe I just haven’t found that one subject, that one book that will tell the story I was born to tell. And that’s okay. I’m only 29 after all.

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Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran

10 Apr

whywewriteI found out about this book from the ever amazing Brain Pickings website which is a great place to find inspiration and guidance in leading a creative life.

The book (despite consisting of 20 author interviews) is short and quick to get through. I read it in two days on subway trips to bars on a Saturday night and to softball games on a Sunday evening. But the advice and the guidance within is invaluable.

What I admired about this book is while I’ve read similar amalgamations of writerly advice, this isn’t just one type of author. You have some very commercially successful mystery thriller writers, some nonfiction writers, some indie writers, a little bit of everything. And for being a book about creativity, it’s also down-to-Earth. The authors talk about their literal journey to where they are now. The logistics of paying the bills, getting published, finding time to write, changing careers.

What struck me was despite how vastly different they all are in every sense, they all kind of said the same thing. Write for yourself, work really hard, don’t give up when someone doesn’t like your stuff, work hard, write about what inspires you, work even harder.

It includes some authors that I already know and respect like Michael Lewis and others that I’ve never heard of. All of their stories were valuable though, and I recommend this book to anyone who desires a writerly life.