Once, a very long time ago (before they invented dirt) there were any number of people who felt I should become a Writer. I can’t say I particularly wanted to be a Writer but it was the focus of so many for so long that I believed I should want to be a Writer. I liked reading. I liked winning contests at school (the easiest way to do that was writing something bleak while referencing age inappropriate influences). My mother wanted to be a Writer. So I began writing. I wrote short fiction that cribbed heavily from Andre Norton. I embarked on a stunning amount of really bad poems. Then I ran away from home and put it all in my checked luggage. The airline promptly lost it. (It wasn’t even proper luggage, more of a large plastic bag with a zipper).
I was so relieved. Sure, everyone else was upset. I made sad faces, I bemoaned fate – but now it was gone! All of it! I didn’t have to try and edit it or worry about why I didn’t love working on it. Hands brushed, end of story, all done! A few months later they found it. The airline person that phoned me was very excited. Obviously, I must be heartbroken because he’d taken a look at my binders. I was a Writer, and my work was important. I made all the appropriate expressions of glee. It seemed wrong to take his big moment away by saying what I was really thinking. “Well, hell.” Suddenly, I was a Writer again. Even the baggage handlers thought I should be one. Let’s count – parents, teachers, friends, baggage handlers. (That’s the whole world, right?) Every year from about age nine my mother gave me a copy of whatever that book was writers used to send out packages in exchange for rejection notices. I duly collected my notices while she reminded me that time was running out on My Goal of being a Young Author.
Having run away from home I was no longer under any obligation to collect the notices, so I stopped submitting work. I started working in retail. I liked it. Almost everything about retail was satisfying with the exception of the customers who said I was much too good for retail. So when they asked what my Real Job was I would tell them I was a Writer. It always made sense to them. They could tell I was a Writer! I found that a bit insulting, as I don’t particularly care for Writers. I liked authors. Authors were people who grumbled under their breath, walked about in their pajamas and never talked about their work. Writers didn’t have anything published and rarely talked about anything but their work. After my mother told me I had missed my chance to be the Youngest Writer it was important to her that I not lose my chance to be an Average Writer, although if I didn’t get it in gear I’d have to settle for being a Late Life Writer. Maybe I could write her book, since she had much better ideas. Then she could edit it and change what I did wrong, and we could go on a book tour together. (Did I mention I’d already run away from home?)
Obviously, I was going to have to look into this Writing thing a bit more.