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 found myself thinking, “Is that how I’d have written that sentence? No, here’s how I’d said it.” 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 to study writing, literature, and publishing. I reassured the doubtful people in my life that my major was solid because it included “and publishing.” But I took fewer publishing classes than I told myself I would. And my favorite one ended up being copyediting—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 had to to fill my graduation requirements. I filled elective slots with extra workshops, 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 very 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 from 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 that 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 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.
An old college friend offered me a way out by passing my resume up the chain at the company where she was freelancing. After six years of working as a full-time registrar, I switched industries—basically overnight. Indeed, my last day as a higher-ed professional was a Friday, and by the following Monday, I was a full-time writer. It happened so quickly that I’m not sure I actually made a conscious decision 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.