What did you want to be when you grew up? Or, maybe I should phrase that in the present tense: what do you want to be when you grow up? Ever since Rooth asked a similar question last week, I’ve been trying to figure that out. Ever since I was little, with brief interludes when I wanted to be an astronaut and a ballerina (not at the same time), I’ve wanted to be a writer. Even as young as six, when I wrote my first story (a boy becomes best friends with a large tree in his backyard, they talk and share secrets, but the tree is chopped down and the boy is devastated. Until he goes to school one day and the teacher hands out paper and all the paper starts talking to the students, and the boy realizes it’s his tree. That is Pulitzer material right there), I knew I loved writing. My mom first realized it in 3rd grade when I wrote a book report on The Phantom Tollbooth, and after describing the mysterious tollbooth that appears in Milo’s bedroom, I began my second sentence, “Through it he drives…” I think my mom’s reaction was something like, “Who the fuck writes like that at eight?” I first realized I could maybe really seriously do this in 10th grade, when I won a playwriting competition and had it produced, when words that I’d slapped down on paper one night were read out loud by real actors and I burned in my seat with shock. Maybe it was when I got into Emerson for Creative Writing and felt more joy and pride and happiness than I ever had in my 17 previous years, the culmination of four straight years of wanting one thing and getting it, all pent up in one purple acceptance envelope.
And then I let it go because it hurt too much to hold onto, after I had to defer back to a college close to home when my dad got sick. It felt too close so I pushed it away. I fought it in college, settling into Photojournalism even though I took the same Creative Writing workshop three different semesters, the maximum amount of times you could take the course for credit. I didn’t write a single thing for years. And then I started this blog. And then I started a book. And now every time I sit down with a pen and notebook or with my fingers hovering over the keyboard before taking a deep breath and diving right in, it feels like coming home. It is where I’m supposed to be, my head a deafening roar of words and sentences and vignettes, voices (the good kind) that don’t quiet until I’m falling asleep, when they let themselves out with turns and phrases so perfect I don’t worry about scribbling them down, that there’s no way I won’t remember them in the morning, but I inevitably don’t.
But I don’t know what to do about it. Sitting at my desk at home, writing and rewriting the same paragraph over and over doesn’t exactly pay the bills, you know? If I were independently wealthy and didn’t have to worry about money, I can guarantee I’d stay home full time and write. I’d fill my house with musty books, keep some music on quietly in the background, and just write. I’m still trying to figure it all out, but I’m not fighting it anymore. It feels better than being lost.