Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Long Way on a Notebook and A Dream

Hello. The Odd Angle here. Thank you Minion and Maverick for asking me to contribute.

I'm not in the industry, like Minion or Maverick. Like many a would-be writer, I live a life outside of the publishing world: A day job, if you will, to pay the bills. A home to clean. Family to juggle. Pets to care for. And on top of everything else, a need to create.

Writing is both a love and an obsession. And while I would love to be more in the "scene" or able to dedicate more of my life to it, I recognize that there are things that are closed to me, for lack of a better term. There really isn't much in the way of publishing where I am. No real freelance outlets either. And at my age, I think it might be a little difficult to get to where either Minion or Maverick are in their lives.

But would I want to publish other people's works? Sometimes, I admit I find the idea appealing. Sometimes, though, I don't think I could handle the responsibility over holding other people's fragile dreams -- or egos-- in my hands. And while I would love to be my own boss and write all the time, I don't know if I have the hutzpah to do what Maverick does -- give up the comforts provided by a regular job to forge my dream with my meager successes under my belt.

My interests include both academic and fiction writing, usually not at the same time. And I've been known to work on either type of project with gleeful and occasionally singular abandon when they strike me. I fill notebooks and writing journals with ideas, bites, and scenes. I bring my notebook-of-the-moment everywhere: you never know when and where an idea might strike. It's my tie to writing while I'm at work, on the bus, or waiting in the doctor's office. It's a lifeline to my dreams that I don't think I, as a writer with a day job, could do without. More on that next time, though.

Without the time or connections, though, what keeps me at it? Good question, but to answer it, I need to ask myself two others.

First: why do I write?

Because, I love it. For all of the other problems I have with my own writing, I just can't escape the fact that even if I didn't write it down, I would still be creating. I would still have this urge to tell stories. Humans are, to use an oft quoted phrase, storytelling animals. Its how we've created our societies, explained our boundaries, and imagined our futures. And I love the stories people tell each other almost as much as I love telling stories myself. Language, rich and strange, the construction of it to share hopes and fears, dreams and ideas is a beautiful -- and very human -- thing.

Second: what keeps me going in the face of all my other daily expectations of job and family?

Apart from the above? Faith in my own abilities (this includes the ability to amuse myself, if no one else), hope, and a little story I'll pass on to you.

In college, my mother's good friend was an aspiring writer. He was good, but my mother, ever the realist, would warn him that it was unlikely he'd go anywhere with it. Find a job. Drop this nonsense. But, he had faith in himself, hope, and a lot of dreams. He kept at it.

By the time I got to college, he was a bestselling author with several of his books on the New York Times Bestseller list and one book that has since been turned into a play on Broadway.

He kept at it.

He tried hard.

He believed that he could do it.

And so do I.

Even if I have a little of my mother's realism in my "don't quit my day job" attitude.

And, one day, when I finally publish I'm going to dedicate it to both of them.

-The Odd Angle

Next time: Writing for the Real World: My best friend, My writing journal

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