I knew what I wanted.
I’ve been a writer since age ten. Initially, I just wanted a career (yes, I was thinking seriously of my future career then) where I could use the old Remington Rand manual typewriter. I loved the way it felt under my fingers, and I savored the letter-arm’s whack against the paper. Even now when I’m feeling completely empty, I type just to hear the clickity-clack of my keyboard.
My parents supported me. My dad is a musician, so they kind of had to by default. “Write,” they told me. “But have a backup.”
That advice has haunted me, still haunts me. It is the thread that floats through my dreams and nightmares. It has brought some of the best things in my life, but also some of the worst. Thanks to two masters degrees, I can now earn gainful ‘backup’ employment as a librarian or college English teacher. I met my husband in grad school, and we have two wonderful children. But grad school brought out the worst of my bipolar, stole my writing for nearly four dull, hideous years, and pushed me into jobs that are not writing.
Before I was five, we used to scrape by on what my Dad sent home from the road, which wasn’t much. After he came off the road and both my parents went to work, our income level reached middle class status. But we were always the scraping-by sort.
Dad job-hopped. His life’s refrain was “I play guitar. I write music. It’s what I do.” I hated those words. And I swore to God I ‘d never be that.
Only I am that.
Although I have a job, a good one, I am becoming increasingly unemployable. I work online, or I probably would have been fired eons ago. The more contact I have with my employers, the less sure I am what’s going to fly out of my mouth at any given time. I tell the truth, often to my own detriment.
Increasingly, all I can do is write. I’m frantic because I know the odds in this business. But this is what I do. I write. My writing has been deferred deferred deferred until my chest clenches, and my throat closes. Until my face burns and my angry soul rebels, demanding its own time.
And so I write.
Because I know what I want.