The Humble Beginnings Of My Future Memoir | On Becoming A Writer

Even though I am on my fifth or sixth career now, I identify most with the last career I had, and that was that of a writer (and editor). I was a writer long before I was paid to do so, as most of us are, but dared to only call myself a writer after I cashed my first paycheck from a piece I wrote.

I vividly remember after over a year of blogging every single day, I made a lofty (so I thought) and maybe a bit half-assed goal to get paid for something I had written. In my mind, officially getting the title of “writer” meant that I was getting a monetary benefit from it.

But I became a writer long before that paycheck. I was in middle school, an avid reader with my nose stuck in Nancy Drew novels and whatever books my little hands could get on to satisfy my voracious appetite for the written word. I had a little purple notebook that I doodled in and I decided I was going to write a novel. Move over, Caroline Keene.

I made a little writing nook. It was basically the space between my bookshelf and my bed and I would sit on the floor, notebook in my lap (25 years later, I still prefer writing with my writing tools in my lap and not on a desk). I’d carefully pen pages and pages of text, writing when I could.

And then I hit a roadblock. Being around 12 or 13 years old, I was just starting to get interested in boys. I had a crush on a cute boy who went to my church but didn’t know much else about how to start a conversation with him or when I should tell him of my undying love and devotion. In fact, talking to him at all made my stomach twisty and I would turn bright red like a beet. So I avoided actually talking to him at all. But I tried to incorporate my undying love and devotion for him in my story. I wasn’t entirely clear on how relationships worked, but I did my best to develop my two main characters in an innocent romantic relationship – a la Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson. The only problem was when I read over what I wrote, at any sign of intimacy (which as a 12-year-old, church kid from the 80’s meant a hug or a kiss), I would blush and skip over those parts.

And thus ended my career as a novelist.

Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash

I didn’t realize I could write again until I was in my twenties and teaching fourth graders how to write narratives. The moment it dawned on me, I was standing in front of 34 eight and nine-year-olds who were watching me write a “catchy introduction,” on a large poster board. The words flowed from my hand and onto the page so effortlessly that I had to pause a minute to read what I wrote and make sure it made sense. I remember thinking, “wow, that was easy,” and it was a good. Catchy, if you will. I didn’t think much of it after that and went on with my day.

10 years later, I started writing a little here and there, mostly a few paragraphs to accompany the photos for my photography business. But still, writing was just a thing I did to help my photography look better.

After the divorce, writing found me. A few months after the divorce was final, at the urging of my friend, I wrote this post, finally officially announcing to the world in writing, of the divorce and my intention to be a writer. A year later, after blogging almost daily, I got paid for my first article.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Photo by Parker Byrd on Unsplash

I believe that I will always be a writer. But I will always be a photographer, a marketer, and an educator as well. We ask children what do they want to be when they grow up and we unwittingly try to box them into one profession, but some kids don’t know nor do they want to be just one thing in their grown-up years. I’ve never been good at picking. I like a lot of things but have always felt pressured to find the one thing. And for a lot of years, I floated purposeless, searching futilely, thinking something was wrong with me because I didn’t know if I wanted to be a nurse, a ballerina dancer or an astronaut when I grew up. In fact, I didn’t want to be any of those things. (I actually wanted to be a high powered executive in a large corporation and later on, a killer whale trainer).

[RELATED POST: Finding Your Life’s Purpose Is Overrated]

I wish someone would have told me just to explore what I was curious about, what interested me and to be aware of the things that made my heart happy. I did do that to some extent, but while doing so I was filled with angst and self-doubt because I wasn’t able to choose just one and be content with it. It would’ve saved me about 40 years of stress to have understood this early on.

Last night, my mom suggested I go back to school and get a Master’s degree so I could have more corporate opportunities in the job market. HELL NO, I politely told her. School isn’t for me and corporate life is DEFINITELY not for me. If all else fails, I’m sure I have a little purple notebook in a box somewhere, filled with the vestiges of the next great novel.

Books I’m Currently Reading*

1. Miracle Morning For Writers by Hal Elrod and Steve Stoll
2. Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

*These books are affiliate linked, which means if you click on them, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link 

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