Just thinking about writing for a living reminds me of how I feel when I'm not making money (like now) - guilty, guilty, guilty as charged. To try and earn a living from your passion in life can be like the proverbial double- edged sword. What on earth am I doing? (I sometimes ask.) How could I have ruined such a good thing ... or how might this have played out had I only followed my father's advice and become a lawyer (yikes) or stuck with that first editorial job at the publishing house, or stayed in Los Angeles, or moved back to New York?
I could have continued to write as a hobby on the side, just as I enjoyed acting in community theater - strictly for fun. Surely, had I done any of those things, the result would have been a spectacular midlife crisis, a major meltdown, and I would still end up right here, right now, doing exactly what I should be doing, which is completing grad school and getting what I need to become a teacher.
Perhaps I am simply less of a writer that I must worry about the whims of the marketplace compared to those free-spirited individuals guided by their pure passion for producing beautiful words and images. I find myself attracted more and more to the unencumbered vision of the amateurs. There is purity there. It is undeniable. It is being a "beginner" again. I have been reinvented through my journey as a student the second time around and it has allowed for a brand new understanding. We might all benefit from going back to being "just beginners" for awhile.
It's maintaining the freshness that is the real trick. Is it still possible to reach back and touch the purity once you are deep in the game of commerce? Perhaps by asking the question, I have just answered it.
Anyone with a computer can claim to be a writer. To actually earn a living producing words or copy that comes from the heart is a very different story. Yes, it's true that I worked as a writer/editor, copywriter/producer, marketing director for more than 25 years, but in those "jobs" and for all those years, I never felt like a writer. I never felt I was doing anything that mattered. Pursing my advanced degree has been the ultimate gift. It allowed me to regain my fresh perspective. It's as if I re-learned those old life lessons but got them right this time. Because of my combined experiences, good and bad, I became a far better student, and I daresay, a better human being.
I am beginning to feel like a writer. The blank page no longer frightens me. I am ready to find communication solutions, to help educate a new generation, to put all that I've learned to work in some (as yet unknown but definitely bold) new way.
Zen philosophy tells us that we are all exactly where we are supposed to be. I tend to agree. What about you? Are you where you should be? What's your passion?