[THE WRITER'S LIFE] How The Hell Would I Know?

I have been writing this column, The Writer’s Life, for about two and a half years. Over that time topics have included managing time, writing dreams, holding on to the passion, risks, sacrifice and managing time. (That one is big.) I chose these topics because a) they are pertinent and important to writers or b) because I was in a time crunch and they were the first things I could think of to write about with some aptitude. I will assure you however, that even if I was writing with the pressure of a deadline at my back, all the topics are close to my heart and ones which I felt important discuss in 500 words or so with the She Writes community of writers.


But, if you think about it, to whom am I actually referring when I write about “the Writer’s Life?” Am I so bold as to assume that I am writing for all writers? All She Writers?  How could I possibly know your dreams or plans; your strengths or weaknesses? Who the hell do I think I am?


Although I feel like I have always been a writer, I haven’t always been a Writer. I’ve had jobs where I was a part of a team or section or department and although I hope I was thought of as a “team player” I typically didn’t assume I could speak for everyone with whom I worked. I didn’t write articles in the company newsletter called, “The Secretary’s Life” or “The Adjunct English Teacher’s Life.” I suspect I would have had some challenges to my observations. As I myself see, on occasion, whenever I come across some other writer’s ideas of what my life is supposed to look or feel like. The phrase, “Hmph. Who the hell does she think she is?” has certainly escaped my lips. More than once.


Many years ago, I left a job because the environment was toxic and the administration was nepotistic, however, that was clearly not the reason that would be public knowledge about my departure. Instead, it was made known that I was “retiring.” Right. At fifty. My boss, who was also leaving (and actually retiring, which triggered my decision to leave as she was my only ally) gave me a beautiful card to wish me well on my writing endeavors. The front of the card said, “She decided to start living the life she’d imagined.”


So, I did. Not all at once and not even really consciously, but little by little, living the life I had imagined became the way I made decisions, chose other jobs or even declined work. It has been slow going, that’s for sure; I am now 58 and I get optimistic when I see an article about Grandma Moses or other artists who “made it” when they were in their sixties, seventies and beyond!


Is the lens of my writer’s life any more clear or illuminating than anyone else’s? Of course not. Certainly there are those writers who come across my posts and think to themselves, “Hmph. Who the hell does she think she is?” I don’t know what everyone’s writing life is like. I don’t know about all the struggles, the compromises, the sacrifices or tests that other writers have to negotiate to live this life. My purpose in contributing my experience--through my lens--is to share an understanding of what it is like to choose work that fulfills and sustains, but not always in the traditional way. I want to commiserate on the challenges, share the strategies and congratulate the achievements with other writers. Mostly, though, the reason I have the audacity to write this column is to convey the realization that I did the right thing in having chosen--finally--to live the writer’s life.



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Comment by Karen Szklany Gault on March 30, 2016 at 7:55am

I am with you, being almost 52, in the inspiration I draw from those whose stories of passion and success at living the lives they have dreamed of beginning at a later stage in life.  Delivered my daughter when I was 40 and am home-schooling.  I've learned from my earlier years what makes me unhappy and what makes me happy and work hard to fill my life with much more of the latter.  I use my teaching certificate as a credential for home-schooling my daughter and build a writer's life around that.  Work some outside the home, but want so much to earn a prosperous living (aka pay all of the bills with some savings set aside) while doing what I love.  It takes patience and determination, but I have confidence I can get there!

But I found with my most recent visit with my mother, who traveled to MA from VA to spend Easter with us, that I can have more compassion, appreciation, and respect for her now that I am doing what I love with my life.  Yes, she still pushes buttons according to her own life's agenda, buttons that could possibly activate the shame and pain from the past, but some of those buttons don't go that deep any more.  Some have even been "de-activated" altogether.   It's taken work, but the will to live what I love has made me a better person.

Comment by Cindy Eastman on March 28, 2016 at 10:23am

Thanks, Jodi...I appreciate your taking the time to read it. :)

Comment by J.A. Wright on March 26, 2016 at 12:40am

I love this. Thanks.

Comment by Cindy Eastman on March 24, 2016 at 1:52pm

I'm so glad you'll be going, Barbara! See you then! 

Comment by Barbara Stark-Nemon on March 21, 2016 at 7:31pm

Good choice, all right, Cindy! Looking forward to seeing you in Austin!


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