I am six years old, sitting in my playroom with one of several cartoon-covered journals in my hand. The pages are scribbled with thousands of single-syllable words in pinks and purples: character names, magic spells, fantastical places I’m going to visit one day.
I am ten years old, and my elementary school teacher has sent home a poem I wrote about Jell-O because she thinks it’s good enough that my parents should see it.
I am twelve, fourteen, sixteen years old and my love for writing has developed a name, has become a tangible element of my life that I can explore and expand and understand.
I am seventeen years old and deciding I want to go to a college that will support and influence the one thing I have been consistently good at my whole life, the one thing I cannot live without.
I am twenty-two years old and graduating with a journalism degree and top honors from a place I couldn’t have loved more and no idea where I’m going next.
I am twenty-four years old and I am sitting in my bedroom turned office in my childhood home. It is early and a soft fog keeps the morning sun at bay, muted and a little distant. Some days, when the edits bog me down or the rejections come too often, my dream of being a writer feels that distant too, that far away and muted and intangible.
I am twenty-seven years old and writing is my full-time job. It is not easy and it is not always books. Most of it is work I will never look at again for companies which I remain practically anonymous. I have enough rejection letters to wallpaper our new apartment, but I am a writer. I am working on a book. I get to tell stories every single day. To do this means I must lean into the challenge, the hard, hazy life of not quite knowing what comes next, never feeling certain of anything, but that I must continue to write.
Most days, I embrace that intangible fog and look out to the distant horizon with more than a little hope. A million interests and loves have come and gone in my life – sports, books, school programs, and summer camps. I have taken road trips, backpacked Europe and started companies. I have learned languages, found lovers and love, made cakes and baked vegetables, failed and succeeded more times than I can count. And through all of that, through the ups and downs, the adventures, experiences, fears and joys, I have always, always been a writer. It is not an interest, it is not a fleeting, passing fancy that I will one day grow away from, it is not a dream.
At least, not really.
I will always be a writer. I have been a writer long before I understood that telling stories and making up friends was not something I would grow out of. I will never stop being a writer. It is not a dream.
The dream is where I don’t have to be something else. The dream is a life where I work hard enough, get up early enough, hit my word count goals enough days of enough weeks of enough months until I can support myself writing books until I am a writer in profession as well as passion. The dream is to support myself with my art and my art alone.
It won’t be easy. Nearly six years after I first forayed into the publishing world, I have my battle scars. I have already faced seemingly insurmountable challenges and I know there are many more before me. From where I sit, the fog still has yet to clear.
But that’s okay, because dreams should be everything. Dreams don’t have to be rational. They have to be all-encompassing, wild, fantastic. Because that makes it worth it. Even if I have to change my dream of one day being a full-time writer, even if my dream takes another form, a different shape, a road I haven’t yet seen on the map, I will be happy. After all, it is still early and when the fog does clear, there will be a great, shining sky behind it.♦