Last week I asked my Facebook friends to ask me questions. Any question. I promised to answer them completely and honestly, and being a woman of my word, I did. All except one. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the question, it was because the timing of it was more than I could ignore. The weird thing here is that it isn’t an earth-shattering, thought-provoking question, but something about it sent my brain into overload and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Today, I answer the question. I can’t ignore it anymore. It comes from my dear friend Mary Tyler Mom, and when she asks you better be answering. Not that she is threatening or anything, but damn…she’s Mary Tyler Mom. Anywho, dear MTM asked me “How did you start writing”. See, nothing over the top. Not like she asked me to reveal my kids’ real names, or to give out my address. What’s so damn hard about that question? The problem is that not only did I interpret it as “how”, but I of course had to put more into it and ask myself “why”. Why do I write?
I suppose the “how” part is easy. The smartass in me says, one day I picked up a pencil and grabbed a piece of paper (remember those days?) and started writing words. In college I progressed up to computers and being a History major, there was never a shortage of papers and late nights. After college, I quit writing. I can’t explain why, but I just quit. Since all I had known for so long was “required” writing, I guess I thought that was all that I could do. Give me the assignment, let me do the research, and I will knock your socks off with a piece about Abraham Lincoln. Boom. Once those assignments weren’t coming in anymore, the writing didn’t go out.
The writing didn’t start to go out again until one year ago. Yep, one year ago exactly, that was when I realized that I missed it. I missed the words. I missed the thought involved in forming the words. I missed writing. When friends suggested I start a blog I never thought it would work for me. I’m not a story-teller, I’m a factual writer. Short of a few funny status updates I had never written for entertainment purposes, only for that grade. I knew I was funny in my head, we are all funny to ourselves, but would other people find me funny? Would other people be able to relate to what I’m saying? Who in the hell would read this drivel besides my mother (occasionally) and a handful of friends. And by “handful”, I really mean one or two. Never in a million years did I expect total strangers to enjoy my words. Never.
As a first-time blogger, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted out of this. I still don’t know if I can fully answer that question. I’m not gonna try to bullshit you, there isn’t a writer out there who doesn’t hope that their work will hit the big time, but this biz is hard yo. There are thousands of writers out there all striving for that same goal and for many, blogging is their job. They do it full-time and they are determined to be the next big thing. I gotta give them some big kudos because I can’t do this gig full-time. Hell, I can barely do it part-time. I can barely get this post finished because of the constant demand for a rousing game of Go-Fish. So I suppose the timing of MTM’s question was meant to be. It was meant to make me search inside myself and really think. Think about how far I was willing to go. Think about how I could let one little blog mean so much to me. Think about how much it has changed my life in just 365 days. Think about WHY I keep writing.
Would I love for a piece of mine to go viral? Duh. Isn’t that secretly what we all wish for? I see it the same as when us parents post a “mom brag” photo on Facebook of our kids winning a spelling bee or a perfect attendance award. If you have something that you are proud of, you want the world to see it. Would I love to be making more money at this? Um…who couldn’t use a little extra cashola in their bank account. What am I willing to sacrifice to get there? My marriage? I think not. My kids? Absolutely not. My friendships? No way in hell. But WHY? WHY am I sitting here at 10:30 at night and 6:00 in the morning writing? Why? Because it fills my soul. Because it allows me to put the thoughts in my head on paper. Because it isn’t a job, it’s a hobby. Because it gives me an outlet and that outlet has helped me to realize that I am not alone. Because it has given me the ability to make people smile. The ability to make a difference. The ability to be a positive light and add some laughter into someone’s day.
The biggest struggle for me has been to find my voice. Don’t confuse voice with self-confidence because I am not lacking in the latter, but this blogosphere is hard. You read one blog and you love her voice, how can you duplicate it without stealing it? You read another one and you love her design, how can I implement that without it being the same? You think the more you write, the more people read. Before you know it you are sacrificing quality for quantity and then then you start wondering if maybe you should write less because the people aren’t reading, so they must not like you. You get the haters who knock you down and instill the doubt inside you that you suck and should just fold up shop right this instant. All aboard the emotional roller coaster. Joy and excitement one day, a quick trip to emotional despair the next. I think the most important thing I have learned this year, and it has taken me 364 days to figure this out, is to be true to myself. It doesn’t make a hill of beans of difference what you write, someone is going to disagree. That is human nature. The key is to not sacrifice who you are in order to avoid the naysayers. You don’t like me? I’m down with that. Just know that I won’t allow you to rain on my parade. Mama ain’t got time fo’ dat.
We all have those days in which we feel as if all we have been served is a big ol shit sandwich with a side of sour pickles. While I may not be a ray of freaking sunshine every day myself, I make it my goal to try to make at least one person smile every day. I don’t know, maybe I should say I am an entertainer instead of a writer? No. I am a writer. I am a writer who entertains with my words. It has taken me a year to be able to say that. I. AM. A. WRITER. While my words may not fatten my bank account, or put my name on a best seller list, or even get me that dinner with Johnny, my words make a difference to someone. Some days that someone may just be me, some days it may be hundreds of people, but as long as they make a difference to someone I will be here. Writing. Because it is what fills my soul.