Two days ago I spoke to a college English class on Living The Life of a Writer: Is it Really All Glamour & Bon Bons?
Their questions and their enthusiasm really took me back to when I was sitting in those same seats, dreaming of one day holding my own book in my hands and seeing it on the shelves of a bookstore.
I do vividly remember sitting in an English class imagining how my life would be. Not really thinking I’d ever write full time, but figuring I would pen some novels on the side on breaks from my well-paying day job. Now to be honest, I did picture myself with pad and paper sitting on a sunny patio under an umbrella sipping some fruity drink while I wrote the next NYT Bestselling #1 hit book. The gentle breeze teasing my hair, while my hottie hubby was down swimming in the ocean, the water glistening off his six pack abs. Oh and did I mention I looked glamorous and hot and still weighed what I did in college—not to mention that body parts were still tight and firm and hadn’t moved South? (Ahh, the imagination of youth…LOL!)
Little did I know the reality would be far from the above. I AM actually writing full time, I gave up my well-paying day job so I COULD write full time. And I could NOT imagine writing my books in long hand—I have an intimate relationship with my laptop. No umbrella, fruity drink or patio overlooking the ocean, although I do have a pool in the backyard, but it’s usually too hot to sit out there to write. I DO have a hottie younger hubby, but he’s usually doing work on his computer or watching TV in the recliner rather than down swimming and being eye candy inspiration for me while I write! And let’s not even discuss the tight/firm body parts situation.
But strangely, I remember those youthful aspirations with a smile. Hey, at least I knew what myths I was out to bust with my talk to those college kids!
When I was in school, we never had an actual published author come and speak to us, but I remember the teachers answering my questions as best they could at the time. Although none of their answers really resembled the information I gave in my talk. Don’t get me wrong—all but one teacher really encouraged me to go after my dreams and write. And that one teacher was the one who told me I was a good writer, but no one would ever buy any of my books if all I wrote was that “weird” stuff (aka paranormal) threaded in with all that sarcasm! Well, lucky for me, I didn’t listen to her at all, because all of my books have both of those things in major doses. The rest of the teachers were all very supportive, and even if they didn’t quite believe I’d make it—never gave me that impression—or at least I don’t remember it.
Anyway, when I found myself in front of that college class, I wanted to present a true picture of what it is to be a writer—the money, the realities of the publishing biz, the deadlines, the legalities, the lifestyle—along with a huge dollop of motivation. And with every question and every answer, I tried to give them as many facts as possible without being discouraging.
I’ve heard too many talks over the years where someone seemed hell bent on making the masses think they could never have their dream, or that they were insane if they thought they could be that one in a crowd who actually finished a novel and got it published. And those people and their message always made me angry. Who are they to take away that hope from someone else?! (Can you tell that’s a hot button for me?)
I walked out of there a little nostalgic for my ignorance of old, but also oddly happy that despite all my delusions of youth, I’d made my dream come true. And even despite the things I remember and miss fondly (like the tight firm body) I’m happy with my life and very glad I never let anyone discourage me along the way. How funny to think I would be horrified if my thirty-eight-year-old self time traveled back to my seventeen-year-old self and told that poor girl what she was in store for, but from this side of the passage of time, it doesn’t look so bad. I think that actually proves the old adage that ignorance is bliss.
I’m curious to see what the kids thought—even if they hated the talk I brought bookmarks, buttons & chocolate—so who knows, maybe somewhere in between the snarkily-presented facts and answers and the bribery at the end, they learned something that will help them end up happily when they are ancient like me. (Don’t you all remember when you thought 30 was way past middle age?)
At the very least, it reminded me to appreciate where I’m at in life and to never take for granted what I have. Not bad for an hour spent…