Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm No Hamlet

So. I've come to a point in my life when I must take action. I'm fed up with status quo, and I just can't sit around doing nothing about it anymore. That's way too Hamlet for me, and I've never been too fond of Hamlet. When I first graduated college with my trusty English degree in hand, I imagined long days spent writing up a storm, all the characters and juicy plots spilling out of my head like fine wine, dripping onto my blank pages in a perfect way, so that not a word was out of place. I imagined my Great American Novel being published before I turned 25, a triumph well-received by critics and readers alike, an Oprah's Book Club Selection that would blow stay-at-home moms away (so much for that, by the way!).

Stop being such a wimp and DO SOMETHING!
The reality of this imagining was me spending the first four months after college looking for a job doing what I loved and coming up empty-handed time and again. I would search job websites day and night, only to discover that:

1) most jobs for writers are in big cities
2) that I was just a small fish in a big pond
3) that you needed EXPERIENCE, always EXPERIENCE
4) that if I wanted my dream to come true the journey was not going to be a simple one

In the wake of this revelation, I turned my efforts to literary magazines. If I couldn't find a job because I lacked experience in writing, then I would gain a little experience. I sent dozens of query letters and submissions to dozens of magazines. I received dozens of rejections. Such is life. But I did receive one acceptance. From a magazine called Southern Gothic, which sadly is no more. They published my story "A Shame About Mrs. James' New Colonial Blue Carpet," and then, I think I nearly died of happiness. Getting that acceptance was one of those Great Moments in life that I'll never forget. And then, soon after I received the acceptance, I landed my first job out of college.

Writing quickly became secondary to me. I was earning my living now. Sure it was a job I hated, but it was a job, and it began its slow and torturous take over of my life. I gained weight now that I was sitting behind a desk everyday. I was no longer able to sit up all night writing and watching movies and being a fun and happening twenty-something. Gray hairs started popping up. My tendency to worry became more of an unbreakable habit. Stress came a-knocking, and being a responsible adult eclipsed everything else in my life.

This has been the story for the last six years. Different jobs sure....but always the same story. Last year I received an incredible gift, the gift of a weekly column in my local paper, the gift of putting my English degree to some use, the gift of writing. Writing never really left my life, but for five years or so, it took a back seat to everything else. After starting my column, though, it became one of the lead players again. I was amazed at how writing on a daily basis fulfilled me, even when my professional life didn't. I loved the reconnect I made with this old friend I'd loved since childhood, and now that I had rediscovered the joy, fulfillment, and passion it gave me; I was determined to never let go of it again.

And then Chicken Noodle Gravy was born. Forever evolving, this blog has become the spot where I stretch my creative muscles, where I share my words with actual people who actually sometimes read them. The joy and fulfillment this little corner of the interwebs brings me is very nearly overwhelming. I wish I could devote more time to it, more time to making it better and stronger. But alas, the real world always gets in the way of what you'd rather be doing.

The real world frustrates the snot out of me, and because it does, I'm taking my future into my own hands and making writing an even bigger part of it. By sheer force of will. I'm hopping the literary journal train again, and I'm going to get more experience. I'm going to become a better writer, and then I'm going to finish my novel and start sending query letters to agents and publishers. I'm going to make something happen or die trying. I'm no Hamlet, dammit, and to be or not to be isn't a question. You just gotta be.


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