“When I am older, I would like to be successful. I hope to be an author some day. I love writing and have written many stories. Writing is like truth. It exposes the things you don’t want to show. I love reading too. When I read, it’s as if I’ve entered a world of my own. It’s like being in the book. To me, books seem alive. Every time I read, I travel into the story.
I want to write stories in my own books some day.”
When I first began blogging in late 2012, people asked me if I wanted to be a writer, and if I had always wanted to be a writer. No way, I told them. In college, I had majored in music and in business. Afterwards, the only writing in my career was in the form of emails to clients and coworkers. I hadn’t written anything more as far back as I could remember.
I was home in New Jersey recently, going through those bins of junk and memories you find in every parent’s basement, when I came across a folder from fifth grade. As I opened one of the “Katie” containers, I found a blue folder with “5th Grade” written across the front. And I remembered: Mrs. Gospin, the teacher who encouraged me to read, and to feel, and to dream, and to write. In fifth grade, I WAS a writer, and I embraced this, the evidence of which I was now looking at. I wrote thirty page short stories about teenage friendship angst, popularity contests, and falling in love—everything I imagined was part of being an actual teenager. I also apparently wrote a school report entitled, “My Life: An Autobiography”, which is excerpted above. It seems that I did, indeed, always want to be a writer. It just took me twenty-five years to remember.
My writer friend, Cindy Lamothe, invited me to join a “blog hop” a few weeks ago, and I was initially skeptical. I had never heard of the concept, and the other hops I could think about—sock hops, bunny hops, actual hopping—weren’t very appealing. (Except for hip hop, which I didn’t think this involved in any way). When she explained the concept that writers would all answer the same four questions, and would link other bloggers, who would link to even more bloggers, I understood that it was a sort of electronic chain letter. Much easier than hopping. And since I was interested in reading everyone else’s answers, I figured I needed to participate.
For better or worse, the answers from this twenty-five-years-late-to-the-writing-party writer:
1)What am I working on/writing?
I have random emails I’ve sent myself with thoughts that pop up at 2am, and Word documents with four sentences on them at any given time on my computer. It’s (barely) organized chaos. However, right now I’m actively working on an essay about body shaming based on re-reading my sixth grade yearbook, and on a follow-up essay to a Huffington Post Live segment I did about the stigmas of being 35 and single. It’s about being 36 and single. (spoiler alert: it’s not much different)
At some point in the near future (likely about three days before it is due), I will begin working on my first twenty pages of fiction since fifth grade for a workshop I’m attending with Dani Shapiro at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown in August. My hope is that it will turn into a book; my fear is that I will discover my talent for fiction peaked in fifth grade.
2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure it does, really. From a stylistic perspective, it’s probably not as poetic, possibly it’s not as bloggy, and it’s definitely not as literary as some others in the personal essay genre. So I think what is most different lies in the content: my story, and my willingness to expose my imperfections in the search for what is true, what is universal and what is beautiful.
Or it could just be that I’m weirder than most people. I like to call it “unique”.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I was asked why I write by a published author a few months into being a blogger. She told me she didn’t know what to make of me, because in her experience most people wrote because they enjoyed it (eh, not until it’s done), they had a burning story to tell (I couldn’t think of one), or they just couldn’t NOT write (I could do that very well; I did it for twenty-five years). And once I was stumped trying to answer her, I questioned if I really was, or should be, a writer.
Except there was this: since I have been writing for the past year and a half, I have experienced a clarity about myself that I can’t recall having before I started sharing my stories with other people via my writing. By sharing my thoughts and feelings with others, I was able to recognize myself again.
And this: my relationships with the people in my life deepened because I was showing people who I really am for the first time in decades. No more facades, no more pretending to be someone I’m not. Turns out, there are people who actually feel similarly and share those sentiments with me. It makes every moment of insecurity and vulnerability when I hit “Publish” completely worth it.
I write what I write because it connects me to something larger, something truer, and makes me feel less alone.
4) How does my writing process work?*
The words “process” and “work” might be misleading here. Let me paint the picture for you.
First, I think of everything else that I could possibly do instead of writing. Doing laundry and taking a nap are my go-to alternatives, but sometimes I consider waxing my car, re-wiring the under-cabinet lighting in my kitchen, or steam cleaning the bedroom carpet. Then I remember that I don’t know how to do any of those things, so I sit down on my grey suede couch with my legs stretched out in front of me, flip on the tv for background noise (reality shows are great, because you don’t really want to pay attention), and pick up my laptop. I open a blank Word document (or pull up any one of the documents I have already started and not saved with four typed sentences; I’m up to Document 9 at the moment). I like to flip over to the Internet next, so as not to finish whatever I am working on too quickly. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail all prove to be excellent distractors, as do Buzzfeed quizzes and Grumpy Cat memes. Once I have chastised myself, out loud, for my excessive procrastination, I return to that Word document and write a paragraph. Since it almost seems like I might be on a roll, I stop and edit that paragraph within an inch of its life. Then I’m usually tired, so I call it a day.
Via this “process”, completing one essay can take between one day and one year. I’m working on tightening up that timeline.
*I do not recommend this “process” to any other writers. It’s quite lengthy and massively inefficient.
Let me introduce my fabulously eloquent and inspiring friends:
CINDY R. LAMOTHE is an expat living in Antigua, Guatemala with her loving husband, David and two small turtles. She has earned her B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. She is a writer, social media strategist, inspirationalist, and lover of life. Her work has appeared in online magazines and websites including: The Manifest-Station and Sweatpants and Coffee as well as other publications. Cindy’s quirky personality and passion for travel has led her down many strange paths, harnessing her appreciation for beauty and innate wildness. Get to know her on Facebook, Twitter and her personal website crlamothe.com, where she encourages others to let go of fear and live authentically.
SARA LIEBERMAN is a freelance journalist based in New York City. After years of brainstorming catchy headlines and editing entertainment and pop culture features for publications like the New York Post, Page Six Magazine and Seventeen, she decided to pursue her dream of being a writer who travels. (Or, if her passport and check-in statuses are any indication, a traveler who sometimes writes.) Her work appears in in-flight publications like Hemispheres and Rhapsody, The Daily Beast, Cosmo UK and Fodor’s. More personal musings can be found at News Girls About Towns, the blog she originally launched with a fellow journalist to document their job-swap in London and New York. It now features posts about self-discovery while discovering the world. She likes long walks on Fire Island, goat cheese, Vinyasa yoga, Mumford & Sons and macchiatos. Follow her on Twitter and like her photos on Instagram.
MEG RUGGIERI currently lives in Denver, Colorado. She writes LeftoversFromFriday, which is a lifestyle blog for people who are trying to figure out life while on their way to a happy hour at a place they’ve never been before while stuck in rush hour traffic with their mother in a perma-passenger seat. Some may call this a run-on sentence; she calls it life at 25. You can find her musing about life and dating perils on Facebook or sharing her unfiltered quirkiness via photos on Instagram.
LAURIE LUH is a career counselor, HR consultant and the co-founder of Mimosa Lotus, a lifestyle website that inspires personal growth by providing tools to live a happier, more fulfilled life. Laurie was the head of Human Resources at Participant Media since the company’s inception in 2004, and left in 2013 when she realized that it was time for her to jump into the next phase of her career life. Now Laurie writes about the practicalities of “jumping” and dispenses overall career advice for Mimosa Lotus and greenlightjobs. She will also be a featured blogger on a new online career center that’s still in development. Laurie has been a guest lecturer at USC and has spoken on several panels. Outside of writing and career counseling, Laurie lives by the beach in Los Angeles and is an active runner and hiker hoping to add surfing to her list of activities very soon. She’s easy to find over at Mimosa Lotus, or you can follow her on Twitter, where she’s often tweeting photos of favorite SoCal hotspots.
DENA YOUNG is a writer and blogger living in the town of big dreams, New York City. Working in the publishing industry for the past 10 years, her former life in television production solidified her appreciation for the creative spirit. A hedonist by nature, you’ll sometimes find her catching the sunset or wandering through a museum, but – as a food lover to the core – she’s always in search of the next great thing to eat. Her blog, Goodness, Grace and Grub, is her celebration of all the pleasures in life. And as an optimist at heart, she believes that magic and grace are just a thought away. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.
Keep hopping! xx