When I was in second grade I wrote a story called “Sheets and Pillows.” It was about a set of bed linens that were sold at a garage sale and had to meet all the bedroom furniture in their new home. My mom still has the original copy and I have to say that I’m a little impressed with the imagination of my seven-year-old self. I can also pinpoint the writing of that story as the moment when I decided I want to be writer when I grew up.
Since then I’ve worked in retail, been a psychology major in college when I got the idea that writer’s don’t make any money, and then come back to writing to work as a newspaper reporter/editor, public relations assistant, advertising writer, associate creative director, video producer, and then back to being a writer at my own advertising agency. All in all a pretty good deal. Expect for the part where owning your own agency turns into managing your own agency. Which is not that fun, at least if you’re a writer. Plus the agency business sucks now. So I opened a retail store.
I’m 20 years into my professional career and now I find myself at a crossroads, trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I love my store. I love talking to the people who come in. I love choosing the merchandise and the puzzle of figuring out what’s moving and what’s not, and how to either make it move or replace it with something else. I love using my marketing powers for good, to promote my own business.
But I still want to be a writer. And I think I’m pretty good at it.
So I’ve been hard at work trying to launch a freelance writing career. This can easily be perceived as spending lots of time on my computer in yoga pants, but in actuality it’s hard to start from scratch. I feel like that whole advertising writer thing never happened; as though, no matter how well I can write a brochure about electronic residential locksets, no one will ever give me the chance to write a feature article for a magazine or a little column for the local newspaper. I’m sure that’s not true. I want to believe that if you are are actually a good writer, you will find a place that will – eventually – publish your work. In fact, I’m sure this is true because I’ve seen plenty of published work that was written by people who were not very good writers.
Here’s another exciting tidbit: I finally have what I think is a great mystery idea.
All writers want to write a book. I have friends who have done it and I hate them. When you are working in advertising and also raising a family, your creativity – and energy – is pretty much tapped out by the time you have a chance to work on your own stuff. But now I find that my schedule at the store and my significantly reduced advertising workload has freed up my brain in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. So I’m going to start working on this book, but mainly with the goal of actually finishing it. I feel like it will probably not be that great, but I need to do the hard labor of getting it done. The trick is to just keep writing.
It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.