Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Becoming (a writer)

This afternoon I was sitting at my computer when my dad tapped on my door. "Can I come in?" he asked, the way my dad always asks. Like he's hopeful but worried that he's going somewhere he's not supposed to, like he's forgotten he paid for the house. At moments like these, with my dad, I think that adults sort of peak, at a certain point, and then regress back into childhood. I can't help but think this is probably the way he asked my Grandmother if he could enter a room when she was busy, making dinner, or doing a crossword by herself. His face is intent and has purpose but it's waiting.

He's coming in with a package in his hand. When I open it, I find a tiny pin in the shape of a fountain pin. I look at it, and my dad pipes up, "You can wear it on your lapel, or something, anything". I turn it over. "It's from an artist in Alaska". I smile and say the magic words he wants to hear, I say "Thank you dad. I love it". And I do, I really do. It's a very nice pin. My reticence, my anxiety stems from what he's celebrating with this gift hthat e bought in Minnesota at the beginning of the summer, and saved for this right moment.

After I hug him, he leaves again. The pin is sitting next to me, here, by my computer, on top of the stack of books.

This is a post of exciting news. I heard about this exciting news 10 days ago, or so, in an email, but I wanted confirmation before getting hyped up about it. On a whim, earlier this summer, I applied to a job (well, unpaid) I heard about in a mail out from my journalism school. In one of the few truly spontaneous moments of my life, I applied to, and have subsequently become, a blogger for Macleans OnCampus. The confirmation, now, is that my profile and picture are up on the website. Now that I have the confirmation, I should get excited, but instead the anxiety has crept in and prevents everything else.

This is silly, I've been blogging for years now*, and as the Macleans people said in the email, they like my writing. This should be easy. This is something I truly can do. Except, I can't seem to convince myself that I can. Because it's a step forward and each one of those means I'm somewhere I haven't been before, somewhere directly adjacent to where I just was, but this little spot is different enough that breathing is harder. This place, I'm uncomfortable enough that I could totally and completely mess up. I want a map for this place.

This, I've decided is the last of my defeat. This is the last of my anxiety. I will draw my own map. I will take purposeful steps forward. I will write things I like and hope that others accept it. But I will not let myself crumble if they don't. I give myself permission to do this because the only way I can become a writer is by writing things.

A couple hours later, while watching TV, my dad muses about the gift he's just given me. "Well... you're a real writer. I'm incredibly proud of you." This comment, at the time, filled me with paralysing fear of failure, of disappointing him. Now, I feel a little bit proud too.

On a more practical note, I will keep writing this blog, here, as well as the one over at Macleans, which will be a little different. Less personal, for sure. But I will keep writing; it's good practice. And I'm proud of it.

Thank you Ira Glass (by way of Ange) for giving me my daily dose of inspiration:

*OMG, seven years. Wow.


Saf said...

oooooh, so cool! congrats!

ange ella said...

Yay! That is so cool to actually see.

Shannon said...

That's great news!! Congrats!!

Nat said...

Wow... that's awesome.

I used to be a flack ... now I'm in PR where I write all sorts of inane stuff no one reads. I used to write for a community rag. The parallels aren't lost.