"If you can't make it work at home, why will it work in a studio?"
"You are unreliable."
"You don't even stand a chance."
Two of the above were uttered by me, one by a reader. Care to guess which?
As so many of us are taking personal inventories with the coming of the new year, mulling resolutions and setting goals, I am laying claim to what is mine. I'm calling my life what it is and owning every bit of it. And I'm letting you in on the game.
"If you can't make it work at home, why will it work in a studio?" That one was me, hovering at the precipice of commitment and fingering my label maker as I tried to decide the ultimate question, as of late: Am I a writer?
I have been many things these seemingly long 32 years, from a real estate investor to a psych ward babysitter to a reading tutor to a reluctant refugee and so forth. The one constant has been writing. Diaries since the age of twelve, amassing dozens of heavy journals, until Hurricane Katrina forced me to consider another venue in blogging.
The introduction of a tangible audience changed everything.
The tendrils that stretched out from this tiny bit of Internet found themselves interlaced with "real" writers and publishers and everything in between, opening my eyes to possibilities. Options that were always right there, albeit veiled.
With the possibilities came opportunities and consequent responsibilities. Responsibilities that butted heads with the type that require diaper changes and unloading of the dishwasher. I quickly became a master of the dropped ball.
Does the fact that I could not seem to juggle all of my responsibilities at home with the opportunities in my path make me a failure? Is it a sign of weakness that I acknowledged that I don't have the diligence to work exclusively from home? That I truly do need the room and privacy to spread out and focus?
What makes being a writer and a mother seem to necessitate that they happen simultaneously in the same space, else I reveal inadequacies in both?
I chose to cede this battle to the label makers. For if I were to be a "writer," I would have to own some "weaknesses." My weakness is time management and organization in the face of a home brimming with life. So be it.
I need this office. I'll prove that to you, if you give me the chance.
I will own this risk. I will define this opportunity. I am this.
"You are unreliable." Hmmmm. Yes, well, my.
That was a reader.
First, I know this. I own this. Second, ouch.
I share that virtual flinch with you because this process will not be one without rejection and criticism. I need to develop thicker skin and the best way I can figure to do that is to develop transparent skin.
I have been unreliable regarding certain aspects of my life.
But I'm working on it. Refer back to quote number one.
Which leaves us with the final quote, attributable only to me:
"You don't even stand a chance."
It is one thing to own who I am, own my decisions, own my mistakes. It is quite another to place my fate into the hands of others and do so with hope.
Deep breath... Hope. Hope means vulnerability and vulnerability seems to be the last thing I want on my agenda when I am trying so hard to foster confidence.
Yet, here's to hoping, as I proudly announce that Velveteen Mind made it to the finals of the 2008 Weblog Awards for Best Diarist!
Those diaries that I began in middle school, the ones that graduated to leather-bound books in college, the diaries packed mindfully into boxes for our move to the beach, those same diaries that now sleep with the fishes of the Gulf of Mexico... they have brought me here. I am a diarist.
I am a diarist that is taking a deep breath and being so bold as to call herself a writer. Because you let me.
And I need your vote.
Will winning Best Diarist against incredibly stiff competition change anything? No. But I'm going to try because I'm curious. I'm going to try because there is nothing wrong with trying to make the most of the time we are given, to take risks and to dream out loud. To try and not be afraid. To try... and let the world see you trying.
This is me trying. Trying to own what I want, one small step at a time. Fine, one virtual beauty contest at a time, butt cheeks clenched in fear that there will be a swimsuit competition, but try nonetheless.
Please vote for Velveteen Mind for Best Diarist at the 2008 Weblog Awards. You can vote once every 24 hours in each category, so vote every day if the whim takes you.
Because my new diary includes you and, stunningly, your opinion. Which makes me vulnerable and humble and intent on remaining as open and honest as you'll accept.
Amazing where one spiral-bound flamingo diary in the hands of a twelve year old will take you.