My life as a writer: Passion, romance, or sloth?

A couple of years ago, after a particularly grueling day at work, I met up with A, one of my dearest friends in London, at (one of) our local(s).  Over a pint of what was likely either Strongbow or Leffe, I disclosed one of my far-away dreams:  to become a writer.  “God – picture it!”  I told him.  “Wake up at 8 or 9 – none of this 6:30 business anymore.  Do some yoga, have a shower, take your laptop to your favorite caf’ where you people-watch until the inspiration takes you…what a life.”

“Yeah, but,” he replied, most likely exhaling from his cigarette, “you’re supposed to become a writer because you’re passionate – not because you’re lazy.”

I am now fully committed to making mine the life of a writer, and A’s remark sits with me quite a lot of the time.  All kidding aside, the fantasy was wrapped up in my dissatisfaction with the way life manifested for me in London…I was desperate to feel a bit more in-control of my livelihood and personal growth within my career, and I was far too drained to even look after myself properly, let alone pursue any creative endeavors.  Deciding to pick up writing again happened quite by accident:  I’d just started this blog with Chris when one of the organizations I volunteered with in the Philippines asked if I could help with some writing, which I was happy to do.  Later, when Chris and I were looking for a way to extend our finances a bit so we could stay a full year in the Philippines, writing was really my only option.

Initially, I was so excited by even the prospect, it kept me awake with glee at night.  As I continued to work on this blog and to take odd jobs on Elance, that excitement didn’t lessen; it felt so natural to be writing…reaching into the dankest pits of my memory searching for the right word, staying awake into the weest hours to meet a deadline, re-reading with pride a piece I’d finished and formatted before sending it off to the client.  It felt right…it feels right.

But it isn’t romantic.  I’ve just finished writing a 2,250 word critique of an English learner’s text using Systemic-Functional Linguistics.  Since I knew nothing about SFL before agreeing to take this piece, I spent nearly 20 hours producing it…and it didn’t pay all that great.  When I take into consideration the time I put into developing pitches and queries, researching magazines, and keeping up my admin costs, my hourly rate is – like most new freelancers – too pathetic to calculate.  And poverty isn’t romantic.  But I’m in love.

I’m in love with my work in a way I’ve never been before.  I’m in love in the way young people fall in love with being in love…I’m filled with anticipation, ideas, and hope.  I think constantly about it – even when I’m not thinking about writing, it’s all around me.  Everything is a potential article.  And I’m in love with it in the way that old couples love one another.  I know this…I get this.  I might not always be good at it, but the keys feel familiar to my fingers.  Searching for the right word or the best way to form a thesis is like driving down the streets I grew up on, looking for the house of an old friend.

But it is only just the beginning…and a modest beginning at that.  Writing has again become a part of me, but I haven’t yet figured out how to make it a lucrative part.  Thankfully life has given me the right circumstances to really try this on for size.  If I was sat there with A this moment, I’d laugh out loud at his remark just like I did that day.  That was, indeed, a fantasy.  But the reality is so much better.

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4 thoughts on “My life as a writer: Passion, romance, or sloth?

  1. Anonymous says:

    what an inspiring read. such soul food to know you’ve found your calling xx

  2. maxzografos says:

    just finished reading this… great, great talent and inspiration! As you say, for most of us writers it’s a labour of love more than anything else. Looking forward to your next post Ann.

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