The Writing Life

Linked from my friend Erin Annie, an article about the writing life that really describes me to a T–and probably most literary-inclined people I know.
That article is so me. To the point. I even majored in animal science, pre-vet, my first year of college, intending to become an equine veterinarian, when I always got the worst grades in science and the best grades in English. Meaning, *cough* an A- in science and an A+ in English, with the English teacher submitting my poetry to the NCTE contest and ending up getting the English scholarship when I graduated. When you’re gunning for valedictorian, you pay attention even to the boring subjects. That’s right, I was bored stiff with science and I MAJORED in it my first year of college. Why? Because in my rural western Illinois hometown, you couldn’t make a living with a liberal arts education, and I was raised to make a better living than my failed-farmer/current-trucker dad did. Plus, we were indoctrinated from an early age that with the family farm dying, we farm kids needed to do something about that, and we’d be able to do that with an agriculture degree.
It took a good 8 years out of high school, until my last year of undergrad (I took my time), for me to figure out that the editing I was doing part-time to put myself through school could be combined with my love of books and my desire to help children (my B.S. is in marriage, family, and human development). Yeah, it took forever, but here I am and I’m glad I found my way.
But even now, I have a novella sitting on my computer in my Writing folder that I’ve been meaning to edit (for itself) and turn into a novel (for possible publication) that I just don’t have the time to work on. And when I have the time, I don’t have the creative energy–between my sinus problems and my work, working on my own stuff is hard to do.
I actually intend to work on it every day off I get, but daily life gets in the way. “One of these days…” I keep telling myself.
I’m happy being an editor. I may have been the kind of kid who always made up stories for myself (for example, I daydreamed that C.B. Barnes was in love with me–he was the kid who played in a mostly-forgotten TV version of Starman–and took me off to live happily ever after on tour with U2, and when I
was younger, I daydreamed that the Dukes of Hazzard were my real family), but I was also the kid who corrected everyone else’s grammar and wanted to be the smartest kid on the planet (I used to wonder why I wasn’t born Japanese, because they apparently had the best educational system in the world, according to the news).
Yes, I was that dorky, bespectacled kid who read the dictionary so she could win the spelling bee (only runner-up in my last year of eligibility, sadly, because I forgot the C in “acquaintance”). I decided in the 4th grade that being the smartest kid in the world meant I needed to read Shakespeare, too. So most of my 4th grade year you would have caught me either re-reading a volume of Trixie Belden or struggling through one of the Bard’s plays. To this day, Much Ado about Nothing is my favorite because it was the only one I understood. Well, the early-90s Kenneth Branaugh/Emma Thompson/Robert Sean Leonard version didn’t hurt the feeling, either.
I’m so glad I found my path. I might say “despite” my practical upbringing, but then again, I may have only found it because the practical farm girl in me had to have a job working her way through school, and by my third year of college, delivering sandwiches for Jimmy John’s or scooping dairy cow manure just wasn’t doing it for me. An office job sounded downright easy in comparison to the hard labor of a farm. And going to work at 9 a.m. was a dream of sleeping in late (at the dairy farm, I started work at 6 a.m.). So yeah. Thanks for the experience–there’s nothing like it. But I wouldn’t trade my job for a herd of Jerseys.