I saw my name as a byline for the first time today.
I submitted three tiny pieces to AssociatedContent.com a couple of days ago just to see how the process works. While it is exciting to have my own words there for the world to see, it is also a little disconcerting. Strange that I would feel this way when my dream has always been to see my name in print. It is like the scraped-surface feeling I get when I send off a job application and resume - raw, vulnerable, exposed.
But at the same time, I am supposed to be promoting myself so I can begin to make money at this writing game. Just like that resume and cover letter, it is about strutting your stuff without being pompous or arrogant - just honest and healthily ambitious. Reaching out for what you need for your own well-being.
For the past two weeks I have been reaching out so far I'm hanging off the edge off my comfort zone. I applied for three jobs, none of which I really wanted but felt I needed to help our family through this coming heating season. Out went those soul-exposing letters and resume. One rejection (OK, I've never actually been an executive assistant), one "you'll be hearing from us soon," and one complete blow-off (the utter lack of professional etiquette on that one has me composing passive-aggressive emails in my sleep.)
Yes, I've been home for four years but I haven't stopped "working" during that entire time. I drew enough people's precious pets and big-eyed babies to pay for one Christmas, taught a journal-writing workshop (and am about to get certified to do another), written 6 chapters of a children's book, completed a literature course, laid out newsletters and theatre programs...
Hey, wait a minute... I don't need a damn job!
I think Fear sent those resumes out, but something else started a blog, submitted three stories, revised a full-length article, and sent a query letter to a "real" magazine all in a matter of 48 hours.
I don't know how the heating will be paid this winter but I'm exposing myself to all the possibilities.
I saw my name as a byline for the first time today.
I should have known. I know what I'm like.
This blog, the blog I insisted was not for me, has me and won't let go. Each time I walk past my desk it calls out to me. I check 50 times a day to see if anyone has happened upon (out of the 2, 010,030 possible google hits) my silly dawdlings. Or I mess with the layout, the colors, or the wording of my profile. And I plan to polish up my rusty photoshop skills to make an artistic banner for myself. And photos? Oh, the possibilities.
I don't have time for this! I am in danger of neglecting my other responsibilities. I have two incredibly - to put it nicely - active children whose wills do not match each others' ways, one hard-working-comes-home-starving husband, and an old house that is in perpetual danger of crumbling into the sea of strewn toys and piled high laundry baskets.
And what about the very reason I began this blog - my writing? OK, yes, I'm getting valuable daily practice, but no publishing gonna be happening just because I have a pretty blog page.
No, I must organise, prioritize, departmentalize. If I'm going to be charged with neglect it would be better to have an under-nourished and under-dressed blog than children fighting over whose dust bunny collection is largest.
Then again, my blog doesn't back talk, produces no dirty laundry, and goes to bed the moment I ask it. Hmmm...
I have commitment issues.
My Blog-to-be needed, nay, demanded, a name. Not any old name either. It had to big, bright, worthy of it - worthy of me. I couldn't have my dear Blog going around with a small, pitiful name. My very individuality, personality, career... life hung on this one name.
Blog waited patiently while I looked at various words and phrases, played with puns, and pondered on the meaning of this relationship between Blog and me.
Finally, I choose. Commitment made. Phew!
But then what do I find out? The name's exchangeable! My Blog can reject the name - my name - and I'd have to start the search over for a new - better - one. I'd made a decision and now... oh, the turmoil.
I'm questioning myself again: Did I choose the right name? Is it bright enough? Will it catch other people's eye? What does it say about me?
But for now, I am sticking to my guns and making my dear one keep this name. I've committed to this Blog, so it can wear the name I gave it.
Until I find a new one.
A few months ago I was chatting with a fellow mom who asked me what I do (she obviously meant other than carting my children around to preschool and dance class and swimming lessons as well as keeping them supplied with nutritious fodder and clean-ish clothes.)
"I'm an aspiring writer," I replied sheepishly.
"Oh, do you blog?"
"Nooo, I don't blog!" said I. (I didn't say that, but I did think it. Being the traditionalist that I am, writing online just doesn't seem real, any more than reading a book on a kindle - or whatever it's called - or listening to music through teeny weeny headphones seems real.)
What I actually said was, "No, I'm more of a paper and pen kinda gal, ya know. I'm not really into the computer that much."
"Oh, you should. I just got asked to write an article for someone because they read my blog."
And my world tipped just a bit.
Fast forward to this week. I have finished my first non-fiction article and I am almost ready to send it off with a query letter. To garner some support in my new endeavor I started chatting with some other writer-moms online. To my utter amazement I discovered they all write online either for publication sites and/or their own blogs. AND THEY GET PAID FOR IT.
World tips completely over and I'm falling head first into cyberspace.
I have been calling myself an aspiring writer for many years now but I was intimidated by the world of dash-your-dreams editors and query letters. But now (dammit) I have no excuse. Just write a little article, get it accepted at one of about a trillion publication sites, and wait for someone to send you a check for, oh, about $2. Who cares, you're published!
And this blog? I'm still loyal to time spent curled up in a chair with journal and fountain pen writing words for no eyes but mine. But if this blog really can help my writing career by forcing me to write everyday - to hone my craft - and maybe, just maybe, catch some editor's eye, then ok, I guess I'll give it a try.
But I do still plan to write for those real publications one day.