I was a writer before I knew I wanted to be a writer.
As a kid, I read books and subconsciously devoured sentence structure. I’d find myself thinking, “Is that how I’d have written that sentence? No, I’d have said it this way.” I emulated my favorite novelists in my notebooks, sitting at the dining room table with my back to a wall, embarrassed by my love of creating fictions.
Actually, I was a writer even when I didn’t want to be a writer. Writing, I thought as a teenager thinking about college, isn’t a job. I wanted desperately to be something, but no alternate field or passion took its hold and claimed me. When it came time to choose my senior project in high school, I felt I had no choice but to put together a portfolio of my many stories and novellas. Writing had chosen me.
I went to Emerson College because I could study writing, literature, and publishing. I reassured the doubtful people in my life that this choice of major was solid because it included “and publishing.” But I ended up taking fewer publishing classes than I originally set out to. Tellingly, my favorite one ended up being a copyediting class—because I am nothing if not a stickler for the rules and eccentricities of a style guide.
I took more creative writing classes that I needed to fulfill my graduation requirements. I filled my elective slots with extra workshops, only begrudgingly stepping outside my genre of choice (fiction) to try my hand at creative nonfiction. I changed my major from a BA to a BFA. I graduated…and had absolutely no idea how to support myself as a writer.
I was used to supporting myself. At one point in my college career, I held four jobs (a work-study position in my college’s registrar’s office, a freelance proofreading gig, a stint transcribing a book for a writer in my hometown, and an internship at the telecommunications manufacturing company where my dad worked). Probably the best and worst thing that happened to me was the opening of a full-time position in the registrar’s office right as I was about to graduate. I was qualified, I was scared not to take it, and so I took it.
It was the best thing because it gave me an opportunity to stick around and get my MFA. I loved being back in workshop. I got the chance to study alongside some amazing professors-slash-writers I didn’t get to know my first time around. And it was during my second summer of the program that the idea for my in-progress novel was born (from the professor’s icebreaker activity, of all things!).
But it was the worst thing because I was good at it, and it provided me with stability, and I could see myself growing comfortable and staying put.
I probably would have if I were slightly less miserable on a day-to-day basis. An old college friend offered me a way out by passing my resume up the chain at the company she was freelancing for. So after six years of working as a full-time registrar, I switched industries…basically overnight. Indeed, my last day in the office was a Friday, and by the following Monday, I was a writing full time. It happened so quickly that I don’t think I actually made the conscious choice to “become a writer,” but never has a rash decision been so long coming.
I’m never happier than when I’m manipulating words.
I’m currently writing a novel that follows the life of a young Polish immigrant from the WWII era through the modern-day #metoo movement, exploring her traumas as a woman coming of age in New York City in latter half of the 20th century.
When I’m not writing, I’m most likely pole dancing. My blog, elbow grip and em dash, explores this other passion in my life.