Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to be when I grow up. When I was a kid, I had a few goals. For a while I thought I’d be a singer, but I never was discovered and these days that dream only rears its ugly head when I’m in the vicinity of a karaoke machine. Take a moment to thank the powers that be if you’ve never seen me with a microphone in my hand.
Then, I thought for a long time that I would be an obstetrician or a midwife. I was sad when I realized that there are lots of science and math requirements one must fulfill in order to be a doctor. I still might be a doula some day, if I ever fulfill my full hippie potential. In high school, I was pretty sure I was going to be a diplomat. It made perfect sense, because I was both the best French student and the best Spanish student in my high school. What other qualifications, I thought sensibly, might one possibly need for such a post? Though I was willing to consider a position as a translator at the U.N. if things didn’t work out in foreign service. Then I failed French my freshman year of college, and promptly switched my major to Sociology. Then I dropped out and became a waitress, and here I am eight years later in charge of an audit. None of this has been very linear, and I’m willing to start over on the search for a career at this point.
So I thought I’d try this writing thing. It seems like a good bet because (a) I like writers; (b) you can do most of your writing in pajamas from home; and (c) I’m a good speller. Plus it’s always been one thing I’m sure I can do plausibly well. I think it’s because I read a lot and am a good mimic (my karaoke rendition of Alannah Myles’ Blue Velvet notwithstanding).
I was thrilled by how easy it was to get a gig writing for the Little Paper. I’ve also been emailing back and forth with the editor of a magazine that’s about to launch here in DC. It’s too soon to say what will come of that, but I’m shocked at how easy it is to get people to consider you as a writer. Apparently, all you have to do is say, “I’m a writer. I can do that.”
But as exciting as it is to think that I could possibly wind up with a job that has some relationship to my skills, I’m already a little frustrated with the writing for hire thing, and that makes me angry at myself. I’m frustrated because the two pieces I’ve done so far have been edited badly. The first piece was nearly untouched, save one cutesy interjection that I really disliked but could live with (barely). The second piece was changed more substantially, and the changes included really dumbing down some sentences, more cutesy interjections, and, horror of horrors, a grammatical error. I can barely even look at it, and in its published form it isn’t something I plan on casually showing to friends and family, as I had envisioned (“Mom, there’s an ad in here for that thing you were talking about, right underneath this article…why yes, that is my byline, now that you mention it. Quel charmant!”)
The bright side is that I can still put a line on my resume about writing for the Little Paper, and send in the articles in their un-edited form as writing samples. I’m just bummed because I’d like to work with an editor who could push me, and I don’t think the LP editor is the one. But I’m mostly angry with myself for getting frustrated so easily. Fame and riches will not be mine if I give up so readily. It’s spurred me to think about my pre-college education, and how that shaped who I am today. I don’t think I was pushed enough, and I don’t think I was taught enough about dealing with failure. (I’d like to do a bigger post about that some time soon).
Also, I’ve realized recently that I have an unnatural attachment to getting my own way, which has nothing to do with my pre-college education. My career counselor dude euphemistically referred to it as a “problem with authority”. Once he said it, it was like a veil had been ripped from my eyes. I have a real problem with being told what to do. Even very innocuous things, like, Pick me up some milk while you’re at the store, why don’t you, can send me off the handle if I’m already in a bad mood. I was an exceptionally pliable and laid-back child, but apparently it was all a façade and I was actually really pissed and just repressing it. It started leaking out about two years ago and now…le deluge. It’s one reason I’m trying so hard to freelance, thereby avoiding exposure to people pissing me off with their unreasonable demands to “hand me that stapler please”. It’s also the reason I’m in therapy.
Well, I had a point here that was lots in my disjointed ramblings. Maybe I’ll try to prise it out later this week.