… or the (embarrassing) story of how this blog came about.
I’d been trying to a novel for years, amassed a folder of false starts, interrupted by a heavy academic schedule, compounded by work, and the complications of a long distance relationship. During those years I still found time to write non-novel related fiction set in a shared world I helped create with a group of friends. One by one, my writing friends got busy and our collaborative writing group went quiet. I still needed a creative outlet. By this point, my life had settled down a bit and I was restless.
At a friend’s suggestion I decided to start up an Etsy shop. I’ve always been good at making things (give me scissors, glue, paper, and enough time, and I can build you a model of anything), but I’ve always done it to fill the time and keep my hands busy when I was watching TV.
I put a few things up for sale, and to my amazement they sold. I threw myself into learning the ins and outs of business, new craft techniques, photography skills, and networked with other artists/designers/crafters. By the end of a year I was using all my spare time to make things, organize finances, promote, or network. I turned in a small profit, but I was exhausted.
I watched as some people made the leap to full time, while others shops shut down or were abandoned. I started paying attention to the stories behind the most successful shops, and I noticed one common trait: passion. These people were willing to work long hours, were hungry to learn more about the craft, go above and beyond the demands of their day jobs. I wondered where they got all the energy. I didn’t have it.
I started writing again. Not for my friends, but for myself. Writing started taking up more and more of my time and creative energy. Ideas took root everywhere. I recognized that spark I’d been missing, but I kept the shop open. It felt like a waste to just let it fail after putting in so much effort to make it successful. People were finally starting to take my hobby/business seriously.
E was frustrated that I wasn’t spending enough time with him. Shop orders started going nuts, I lost sleep trying to fill wholesale orders, I had to take vacation days to work on my business. I still felt that nagging itch to write, but my free time dwindled to zero, and when I wasn’t exhausted, E and I argued about stupid things.
Then one night I had one of those rare life changing dreams.
~begin dream sequence~
So one day Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, and Mark Wahlberg walk into a bar… I’m joking. It was a shopping mall.
Colin and Ben were having an argument. Colin (my business) was shouting about our history together, and how we’d worked so hard to get the business going. Ben (my writing) looked like he would cry.
“Do I mean nothing to you?” Ben asked.
My dream self went through the logic. I’d thought it had been just a brief spat of passion/an affair. I didn’t want to let it mean anything to me, but I’d always had a feeling it could have turned to love if it had been given enough time.
My dream self was torn. I hadn’t been willing to gamble on Ben. Common sense (and my parents) told me the chances of it coming to anything were almost zero, that I should stick to my commitments, that I was already doing well with Colin.
Now Mark (my husband), walked out of an elevator, followed by a gaggle of children. He had never met the other men before. The kids were were making a fuss, and a baby in the stroller was crying.
He walked right up to Colin and said, “We have 5 kids. I’m not going to let you mess this up.”
You don’t mess with Mark Wahlberg. Chaos ensued.
Note: E does not look like Mark Wahlberg, nor do we have any children (yet).
~end dream sequence~
I woke up that morning and knew I had to make a choice. I decided to give up the shop. I wanted to channel all that energy I was wasting into writing, and to see where passion would lead me.
So I started a new novel, and reading writing blogs/book blogs/author blogs. There was so much I wanted to say that I thought I might vomit Times New Roman if I didn’t get it out. I didn’t want to drive E nuts with all the writing talk, so I started this blog.
You know what surprised me most? Ben and Mark get along.
Even though I put in long hours writing, E never complains. He’s been all encouragement. Writing puts me in a good mood, and that makes him happy too. “Passion” made all the difference (though crazy dreams, and Colin Firth do help too).
So go forth and live passionately, my friends. Don’t be afraid. I wish I’d figured this all out a long time ago, but I’m stubborn like that 😉
Did you make a choice to take writing seriously? Or were you one of the lucky ones that always knew what you loved?