Confession #1: I am a part-time writer.
I hate to admit it because it sounds like a downgrade. It took me so long to build up the confidence to call myself a writer in the first place and now I’m compelled to qualify that label? “Part-time writer” sounds like “Sunday painter.” A dilettante, a dabbler. But the reality is that I have a full-time job and a wonderful family and I have to squeeze my writing in around those commitments.
Resolution: Let go of the guilt. Guilt that I’m not working hard enough to be a “real writer,” whatever that is. Guilt that I’m working too hard at something that doesn’t bring any money in. This year, I will try to swap the guilt for pride, or something like it. Being a part-time writer has constraints and challenges. Maybe, just maybe, I can give myself credit for taking on those challenges and doing something that is creative, liberating, and scary.
Confession #2: I have become a feedback junkie.
My desire to be a “real writer” has led to the inevitable plan to increase my social media presence. And, much to my own surprise, I’ve enjoyed it. I love (virtually) meeting writers, learning tips, taking photos, smiling over shared struggles and triumphs. The downside? I have become mildly addicted to clicking and scrolling and levelling up. Ooh, is my Twitter notification bell ringing? Do I have new followers on Instagram?
Resolution: Re-commit to my writing schedule, a schedule that now includes a shiny slot for social media time. I’m a mom, dammit. I know how to limit screen time and offer carrots for tasks completed. I hereby resolve to reward myself with Twittertime only AFTER I have completed a solid chunk of writing.
Confession #3: I want it.
I want to be successful, to land a literary agent, to get my first novel published. This kind of honest ambition is hard for me to own. As a mother, I’ve adopted willing self-denial and a contented focus on my children. As a teacher, I’m also focused outward, on my students, on the content of each lesson. It’s different with writing. I’m putting my own creations out in the world, pieces of my imagination, refracted reflections of myself. To want success for myself feels egotistical and that makes me squirm.
Resolution: Figure out what I really want. I already know that writing fiction stimulates and satisfies me. It’s ego-nurturing, not egotistical. I don’t get paid for it and I have spent countless hours working hard at it. So, perhaps what I really seek is validation that this crazy adventure is worthwhile. Worth my time and maybe even somebody else’s time. Somebody out there might choose to pick up my stories and come away with the same kind of exhilaration that I feel when writing them. That’s exciting. That’s worth wanting.
Final thoughts: Here at the beginning of 2016, it’s easy to see potential. It’s harder to examine the realities of this part-time writing life (or #writerslife as we say on Twitter, ignoring the ironic error). This post is really a commitment to be candid about my writing journey, pitfalls and all. And to connect the pitfalls with bits of positive problem-solving. And so, I’m ready (sort of) for a new year filled with honesty and resolve.