Monday, May 16, 2011

Hello Blog World

Posted by Jennifer B. at The Writing Cocoon.

What makes a person a writer? Is it being a literary genius, writing the “Great American/English/German/Etc. Novel,” being published in a magazine, or writing online? Is it something as simple as saying that anyone who writes is a writer? Are bloggers writers? Is my mother a writer because she records events in a diary?
When can I say that I am a writer without feeling that twinge of doubt in my gut? Just as I typed the last sentence, I happened to spot my Pocket Oxford English Dictionary and its descriptive tag: “The World’s Most Trusted Dictionaries.” Sounds promising and reassuring.  I looked up the definition entry for “writer”:

    writer (n.) a person who has written a particular text, or who writes books or articles as an   occupation.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t find that to be particularly profound or helpful. Maybe I expected to see a picture of myself or some gentle encouragement in that yellowed old book.  Perhaps the problem is that my real question is: what would make a writer out of me? Or, perhaps if I’m brutally honest, my question is: Do I have what it takes to be a writer?
But, first, I should say a little more about myself before I get into my identity crisis.  Four years ago I gave up my career, such as it were, to move to a new country and start a new life with my husband of barely two years. It was a career I happily gave up, and I’ve definitely never suffered a pang of regret about that job in particular, although I do miss having a job in general.

I’ve always prided myself on being extremely independent, even taking it beyond the bounds of necessity and way into the absurd territory.  Having a job was part of that independence, so I’ve been facing a steep learning curve these last few years.  I didn’t like asking for help, I didn’t want others’ opinions, and I was certainly not about to take someone else’s word above my own experience. It could be rough being me (and probably pretty rough being close to me), but I’m sure any stubborn people out there can relate.

As to how I got to being such a pig-headed know-it-all determined never to need anyone, well it started off with being the firstborn in the family. I think it kinda goes with the territory, to some degree, when you are the firstborn.  Everyone thinks you’re great, but then comes along cousin #1, then sibling #1, and so on.  You learn to fend for yourself. There are a lot of other things that made me learn the lesson, for right or wrong, that the only person I could depend on was me, but that is a whole long series of therapy sessions, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  I probably have more than a few good reasons for how I came to be the stubborn person I am today.

There is a lot more to me, I hope, than being stubborn. I also tend toward the creative. I find myself drawn to all things creative: sewing; cooking; writing; languages; drawing; art; dance; etc. You get the idea.  Not that I’m into astrology, but, paradoxically, I’m also very much my birth sign, which is Virgo. I love organization and lists and perfection. They make my deeply rooted tight-arsed self tingle with satisfaction. This doesn’t seem to jive with the creative part, which makes me contradict myself quite often. In other words, there is something else in my nature that never fails to fail to follow my careful plans, lists, and organization charts.  Usually, in the ultimate moment, I throw everything out the window and follow my gut. Or, at least, I used to. More on that later.

Now I find myself an expat living in a new country. I travel, go to school, and I am trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do to pass the time of my existence while at the same time earning some money in order to pay my own bills. I also find myself with too much time on my hands, having no real responsibility other than two lazy cats and a self sufficient husband.  With all this time, I’ve realized something. My world has come together and everything has fallen in place to allow me to pursue my one deepest desire: to become a writer. There are no more excuses, no waiting for a sign, waiting one more year to pay off a bill before I quit my executive, soul-sucking finance job, no children to raise, nothing. I would be a fool to pass up this moment, wouldn’t I? I’ve done it before, been a fool, but this time feels like one of those moments you pass up at your own peril, at the risk of regretting it for the rest of your days and maybe beyond.

It is a long road to becoming a writer. It could be years before I have something publishable and many years after that before that something publishable might catch the eye of an agent. That is a long time. Therefore, I needed something sooner, some instant gratification and feedback. I thought to myself, why not start a blog? Why not start connecting to other writers now? Why not share and learn with other writers going through the same herculean tasks?

Then, I admit it, there is the accountability of a blog. My novel can fester in silence on my computer, its putridness leaking out of the office and forcing me to escape outside for a long run, but only I will know that it is suffering neglect. A blog, well, that is another thing entirely.

So that’s why I’m here. I’d like to blog about my writing, my struggles and successes, share information on books and links, learn from fellow bloggers, and just build a little support community to keep me going through the low points and share in the high times, too. I’m planning to write every day and post five times a week at a minimum. I’m thinking I will cover my daily writing, writing craft, writing books, books I read for pleasure, helpful websites and other such things. I’m also interested in the struggle to follow the path less tread.  I gave up a high paying career with no guarantee that it would pay off in the end. I jumped off a ledge, and I have no parachute. Hopefully I’ll figure it out, but maybe I won’t.  My Virgo nature does not like the messiness of cliff diving without a parachute.  Maybe blogging about these thoughts and fears will shrink them down to a manageable size.

I look forward to comments and feedback, positive or constructive criticism. Feel free to email me, and I will answer within the week.

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