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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Friday, August 26, 2005

I Call Myself A Writer, But I Never Get Paid

The title of this post was inspired one of my all time favorite musicians, Jude Cole (bowing my head in a brief moment of silence). It's a lyric from one of his many great songs, "Just Another Night" and incidentally, a great way to sum up my feelings about what I'm about to write.

There are many reasons people blog. Some people blog out of boredom. Some out of frustration. Others out of a combination of the two and so on and so forth. Only you know what category you fall into. Me, I think I've fallen under all of them at some time or another, but for the most part, I categorize myself as the "wanna be writer blogger".

For those of you who are "wanna be writer bloggers" like me, you understand that this alone breeds frustration blogging at times. In some ways, blogging is great for wanna be writers. It offers you the freedom to write about what you want to write about WHEN you want to write about it. But what it doesn't offer, however, is any monetary means of success, at least not unless you are one of the precious few who are lucky enough to be plucked from obscurity, that is.

Regardless of which group you fall into, more than likely the majority of the "real life" people in your day to day life don't get blogging. Some of them have no idea what it is know what it is, so you don't even bother mentioning it. Then there are those that in a word, get it, but don't really respect it.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I am a teacher, but I also tell them that I am a writer. When they ask me what I write I can point them to many links on the web and even a few published pieces here and there. But when I say "Well for the most part, I blog," this is usually welcomed by dead, uncomfortable silence. This is because these people either have no idea what it is I'm talking about, or they do and they just don't see how that constitutes being a writer.

Let's face it. Blogging is passe these days. Everyone and their mother (not MY mother) does it. So to set yourself apart from other bloggers as a "serious artist" is a hard, if not impossible feat. When you say the word writer people think of the likes of Stephen King, or even (ugh) Danielle Steel. Yet there are very many writers out there that write brilliant stuff, that the majority of the world does not know about. I'm not being as bold as to say I'm one of these people, I'm just putting it out there.

I remember the first time I expressed interest in becoming a writer to my family. If only I were gay, considering I might as well have come out with the reaction I got. When I was a kid, writing took shape in the form of dreamy poems and song lyrics. At the time I was obsessed with soap operas and remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a soap opera writer someday. Her reaction was akin to one you might witness after watching a parent look at their 5 year old's fingerpainting. They're amused, but not impressed.

As I got older, thankfully my interests towards soap operas waned, and along with it the strong desire to write poetry and song lyrics. Instead a more introspective writing took its place. Creative writing classes in school kept my dreams afloat, along with the many encouraging words of my peers and teachers. I never knew what I was good at, but my whole life people told me I was meant to be a writer, so I figured I must be on to something, so I'll just roll with it.

So when it came time to apply to colleges, I decided to major in English. I can still remember my dad saying, "So you're going to teach?" At this point, however, I wasn't so sure. It was like the big elephant in the room. He knew I wanted to write but more than anything, he wanted me to be practical. All of the accolades in the world wouldn't amount to anything to him. Writing is something anyone can do and very few can do well and frankly for as much as I love my parents and their good intentions, I don't think he thought I was one of them.

Early in my college career I realized studying the likes of Shakespeare and other classic, yet stuffy writers was not where my heart was. So, upon encouragement of an interested professor, I made the switch to Communications with a concentration in Public Relations/Advertising. Everyone knew that I *could* make a living at this, even if it wasn't as secure as a profession like teaching, so the switch was made.

But soon in to that profession I realized that while I liked writing, PR wasn't exactly the right fit either. PR writing and news reporting to me, didn't leave much room for personality in writing and to me, this took all the fun out of writing, period. So here I was, taking a profession that was already hard enough to make a living at and I ended up making it even harder on myself.

After graduating I worked some dead end jobs, all of which I've blogged about before. But the one constant that I always came back to was the writing. In my early twenties I still had visions that I could "make it" and I sought refuge in the emerging world known as the Internet. I was lucky enough to achieve the goal of establishing myself (somewhat) in the world wide web, although I was still overwhelmingly anonymous and penniless.

This blog has been great for writers like me because it allows me the opportunity to write what I want, when I want, just like I always wanted. But what makes it really worthwhile are the comments. I'm not gonna lie it feels good sometimes to think some of you like me, you really like me. It rebuilds confidence that has been torn down as the dreams of once "making it" with my writing seem to get farther and farther out of reach.

But now I'm at a crossroads. I am fueled by the comments and the emails where people who don't have to amuse me tell me that I'm good. I am flattered when someone thinks enough of ths blog to contact me out of the blue to let me know. I am amazed when people are "honored" that I wrote them back. After all, I'm still just Janet from the block, sans the bling bling.

And now I don't know where to go to next. This blog is still here and not going anywhere, but then again, neither is my career. Don't get me wrong. I love teaching and it has filled a creative outlet, but one great thing about teaching is that I can write and teach. But what do you do in order to take it to the next level? What does the next level consist of anyway? Is it crazy to even try? Where do you even begin?

I know millions of people blog and never make it, but that doesn't stop millions of people who play music from calling themselves musicians. If someone never "makes" it does that really make them any less a writer, a musician, a painter, etc?

So this is where I throw it back to you, the precious few who have reminded me that this blog is written by a teacher who happens to write, or a writer who happens to teach. Where does someone like me go from here?



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