A good day begins with no alarm clock, just rising naturally when my body is done sleeping. I notice the sunrise, perhaps I step outside to breathe it in, the morning is quiet and my coffee or tea steams, and I begin by turning inward, noticing the beauty in the rising.
And then, I take pen to paper or hands to keyboard and begin to share what I notice, what I feel, what I think, what I learn. Writing helps me make sense of the world, it tells me who I am and where I am and why I am and I find that others really connect with my noticings because in noticing, we find universal truths.
It was in college, as I attended class and wrote for the paper and hung out with friends and kissed my boyfriend, that I first heard that if you do what you love, the money will come.
So I set out to become a professional writer. I moved to New York three weeks after college to take an unpaid internship and hope that it would turn into a paying job. It did. I saved more money in the first year out of college, in the most expensive city in this country, earning a pittance of a salary, and I was infinitely happy.
I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, and I made friends with writers, and I lived with angst, and I used the angst as fuel to drive my writing and to turn out poems and stories and essays and dream of writing books one day.
I wrote articles for magazines and newspapers, about the details of life, sometimes messy, sometimes clean, always beautiful because of the sheer brilliance of living and breathing.
I fell in and out of love with writers, and to this day I don’t know if I loved them or I loved the fact that they dared to write.
And this passion for writing, this doing what I love, fueled me and propelled me along in life for years until somewhere, somehow, I fell out of love and fell into anxiety about money.
Most writers are never wealthy. Most writers suffer their writing – they do it because they have to to keep their hearts beating. They accept the writer’s role of pauper and love it, actually, as a badge of honor, as proof of their very real existence.
But they never stop writing.
So I am not certain when I stopped focusing on the love for writing and started agonizing about money.
That killed it, you know. I write still – hell, I write here daily! But it isn’t what I do for most of my life, and so I am left wondering if I can safely still say that I am, indeed, a writer.
I earn more money now, because I’ve turned the writing into a channel for business. And my latest book, my eighth to be published, is getting quite a bit of mileage – without even a marketing plan! Damn me, the marketer, for not actually mapping out how to get this book more out there.
I used to have a vision for the series of books I would write on The Flavors of Faith. The second one was to be about fasting, except you know what? I don’t want to write a book on fasting. It’s cute and clever and interesting – we all fast at some point in time, and we all break fast and have recipes to go with it.
But I don’t want to write about how people deprive themselves. No, I want to write about how people are inspired, how they’re elevated, how they love life and find happiness.
Is there a rule that says writers must only focus on the turmoil and misery of life? Must they mire themselves in sadness and grief and depression and drink and infidelity and tipping over the side of a boat to drown in their own pitiful sorrows?
I’m going to answer my own question and say that in fact, a writer can focus on the joy, on the beauty, on the heavenly moments of this life, because they’re everywhere. There is so much good fodder for writing – except no one’s putting it out there.
What would happen if tomorrow, I reinstated that I am a writer first and foremost and everything else fell into place behind that? Would I fall on hard times? Would I fall back into anxiety?
Or would I come home to myself?