I was twelve before I realized that not everyone has a cheeky narrator inside their head. It was my therapist who pointed out the implications of my life being authored by a voice not my own. But my narrator is pleasant company, so I decided to keep her. (She wrote with a smile and a thoughtful sip of coffee.)
Over the years, I’ve outlined a few books. Memoirs, novels, Erma Bombeck on crack style essays – I’ve been trying to find the vehicle for my story. But it never fleshes out. Following the most basic advice for writers, I’m trying to write what I know. That’s harder than it sounds, because what I know isn’t stuff that’s fun to write about. Not fun for me, and I imagine not very fun for a reader, either. Every time I start really writing, I wind up bumping into walls that were erected long ago to shore up oceans of mental sewage. I like those walls; I don’t see any benefit in chipping at them.
But the thing is, I want to write that book. I’ve very few talents and writing is the best of them. I don’t just like to write, I am compelled to write. I’m driven to put words to feelings and ideas and memories and hopes and fears. I think with my fingers. I see my story in letters. I am a writer.
I had a paper route as a kid. I was far too young for the job, but it was mine anyway and I took my job seriously. My hands were constantly blackened with newsprint and criss crossed with welts from snapping rubber bands, but I loved the smell of the freshly printed ink and the feeling of pride when I threw a paper right onto the front porch. I felt important, like a Bringer of News. I imagined people standing in their windows, wondering what was going on in the world, and then nodding when their paper arrived just in time. The paper provided saddle bags for the back of my bike, and it made me feel trustworthy and important.
I lived in a hilly beach town, and my route was a loop of about 6 miles. Those hills were tough with saddlebags full of fat papers, particularly on Sundays. Many days my sister would ride on the rack behind me and hand the papers up to me to throw and though she may have been tiny, I was too and on those days I could barely make it up the steepest hills. But I did. Every day. I brought the news.
I learned so much from that paper route. I learned the sense of pride in doing a good job, the feeling of strength that is had from overcoming fatigue and pushing on because it’s the right thing to do. And I learned the joy of riding downhill with the wind in my hair after fighting so hard to get to the top.
Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who learned these lessons at age 9? Every job I’ve had since was met with the same sense of pride in doing a good job, the same feeling that I had been entrusted with something important. I’ve been a waitress, a teacher, a bartender and a petsitter- and a dozen things in between. But every single job was important and deserved to be done right, even when it was uphill.
I’ve applied for many jobs over the past year, and haven’t been hired yet. I’m trying not to take it personally- on paper my experience looks great and in person I’m even better. This is just a bad time to be looking for a job, especially with the limitations my home situation places on my schedule.
And so I’ve been trying to write that book.
It’s a scary thing to do, writing a book.
But just like my paper route, and every job since, I feel pride in what I’m doing. I feel a sense of being entrusted with something important.
I also feel a sense of pedaling up a steep hill toward a scary destination that I dread reaching. But thanks to my 9 year old self who still lives inside me, I know that after I’ve reached the top of that hill, I get to enjoy the heady sensation of flying down with my feet held out and my hair streaming back and my eyes closed.
‘Course, I’m not 9 anymore, so now I’ll probably crash at the bottom. But that’s okay- it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Real life woman. Virtual World avatar. Likes top shelf vodka, dominant men, blues, sunsets and playing darts. Dislikes insecurity, rap, small children and clowns. I'm either behind the bar or under it.