A few weeks ago, I went back to school. Not really traditional school – that won’t start until August, but my non-credit classes started. I’m taking five, all writing related, and so far it’s actually been an enjoyable challenge to keep up with the amount of work that comes with that many as well as my usual writing. And even though they’re still just getting started, I’ve already been posed with several self-altering questions. Is your burning desire to write just words or can you really take rejection and failure and still survive? Are you going to be able to take criticism and make it constructive? And my favorite so far was this exercise:
Let’s pretend that life is perfect. In fewer than 100 words, write about your perfect writing life. Now write another short paragraph (fewer than 100 words) describing why you can’t or won’t attain this perfection.
My initial reaction to this assignment wasn’t hard to come by. My ideal writer’s life is easily centered around two things – my own success as a writer and how well I would mesh that with being a mother to my butterfly daughter and her hypothetical little sister I’ll never have. I would switch between my writer and mommy hats with something akin to ease, never knowing the pain and suffering that we narrowly escaped the day Evelynn was born, nor having any concept of how horribly wrong the whole thing can go when Ayslynn arrived. I could be happy. Not just pleased with my writing career, but actually, genuinely happy.
Of course, this is a writing class full of strangers and a teacher not at all prepared for such dark and tormented thoughts. Here’s what I posted instead.
My ideal writer’s life isn’t so much about location and accommodations as it is my mindset, my self-discipline, determination and self-created success. I would be able to write anywhere, be exceptionally good at juggling writing, marketing and researching with a couple of carefully chosen speaking engagements. I’d have the first novel of my trilogy out and several short stories self-published online, and when people asked what I do, I’d be able to say with confidence that I’m a writer and tell them what I’ve been working on recently.