Doing This Writer Thing

I was in second grade the first time I was sent to the principal’s office. My class was in the trailers on the far side of the elementary school campus and the walk to the central building by myself, while all the other kids were in classes, was unsettling. I sat in the principal’s office. I forget his name. I forget what he looked like. I forget what it felt like. But I remember that I read him my story. It was written on those wide-ruled, tissue thin sheets of recycled paper meant to practice our shaky penmanship. He sat and listened. To my whole story. What was it? Three or four pages long? I didn’t know how busy a principal was those days. I didn’t understand enough to be flattered. But I was happy that someone listened to my story.

I decided I would be a writer.

And I was. All through elementary school, middle school, high school, I filled notebook after notebook with my rambling writing. I wasn’t just practicing writing- putting pen to paper- but seeing and experiencing. I was practicing disassembling a moment and putting it back together with twisted meanings and added color.

Sometime in high school I “grew up.” I selected a “real” profession. I grasped at so many professions in college. Music teacher. Psychologist. Speech writer. Chemist. Pilot. HR director. These were play-professions that I probably should have explored and discarded when I was a ten year old girl. But when I was a ten year old girl I was sure that I would grow up to be a writer.

Then real life happened. I spent the past 7 years in a whirlwind of life, my profession dragging along behind me like a tattered dress. I wore it without thinking, because that is what we do. We can’t be naked, can we? I became a mother. Do you know how devastating parenthood is to the mind of a writer? The interruptions. The anticipation of the interruptions. The exhaustion. Do you know how impossible it is to dissect a moment when the moments keep piling on top of you. A child doesn’t wait. They keep happening and growing and becoming. They are the ultimate verb.

I forgot I was a writer.

I stopped carrying a notebook.

I had bills to pay and mouths to feed. It was all very cliche. Dreams have no place in those early years. Or do they?

Since I went on maternity leave, it seems things have been pushing me back to writing. I have a decent income to keep me afloat for the next year. I still planned to supplement with my content writing. But one client dried up. Another became a waste of my time and energy. A third ended their campaign. I found myself floating without obligation. I could spend all of my time being a mother. That is what maternity leave is for, isn’t it? But then I found I have perhaps the chillest baby ever. She coos and sleeps all day. She barely cries. She lets me sleep at night.

I found that I can write again. Not just write. I can think. I can imagine. I can dream.

And the dream tickling my brain right now is the same dream I had when I was in second grade. Less a dream and more of a realization. I am a writer. The timing is right. The world is accepting. Why not just take the plunge and see if I can actually live as a writer? Why not, indeed.

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