Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Does It Mean to Be a Writer?

Anna June is not impressed by my work. I'm an office secretary, pretty much. I help a lot of people, every day. One of the things I help them with is their writing. When people ask me what I do, I say that I am a secretary. But I have always thought of my profession, my true occupation, as writing.

Currently, I'm working on a freelance project - proofreading a 350+ page textbook. Working with the writing of others is both freeing and intimidating. Remind me not to freelance again.

So what is a writer who does not write?

Someone who gets overwhelmed by their thoughts, evidently.

Every day, in the shower, I think about what I want to blog about that day.

But then as soon as I open the bathroom door, reality sets in. It is much later than it should be. Nobody is awake. Socks have disappeared and my child has suddenly forgotten how to tie her shoes.

I get to work and remember the day's blog topic. But by the time the elevator brings me to the sixth floor, I'm already running in to co-workers complaining about the weather and then a faculty member who needs something right then and a hundred and fifty seven emails in my inbox, which all require me to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW about their problem with red exclamation points.

If I am a writer, why can't I find time to write? Shouldn't I make time for reflection, and writing, and try to make sense of it all? Shouldn't I have a break from the madness to process it?

A couple of bloggers I admire both posted the same advice recently: don't blog about something personal until you're on the other side of it. So far, I'm right in the middle of a lot of things. Not stuck, just going through a very intense and busy season of life.

All through the day I'm taking pictures, saving scraps of paper, and taking notes, hoping that I'll have time to write what I started in my head in the morning. But it hasn't been happening lately.

Back in January, my great Aunt Eunice emailed me to ask if I could correct a description of an Amazon sales listing. Someone was selling a used copy of the book she wrote with my grandmother, In the Desert One Christmas Eve. They didn't have all the facts exactly right, so I wrote in. This December, I read this book to AJ's class. I read it to her Pre-K class as well.

I was thinking about my grandmother - she was incredibly busy with her family, her own business, her volunteer career including both directing a choir and leading a whole entire state of volunteers, and then, of course, as a writer.

I don't think she would have thought of herself as a writer first and foremost. But she did write. She wrote a book and she sold the heck out of it. That book basically built a house. But it started out on a steno pad at the kitchen table. I know because I was there to see it happen.

One of the many things my grandmother left to me was the example that it can be done. If she could do all that she had to do, then I can probably do all I have to do.

I've set it as my goal to have 16 posts in the month of April. If I do one per day for the rest of the month, I will reach it.

A writer is someone who writes.


Jennifer Spears said...

hi Laura, I run into this problem constantly as a photographer and artist. Is that how I make a living? No. It is how I want to be identified though and that's important. It's a constant struggle. Some days merely thinking about the projects I want to accomplish is a win. Just getting the notes down. Storing the ideas for later. I do worry that later will never come. That thought is overwhelming. I have found that setting specific goals is very helpful. We should discuss more in depth in person sometime soon.

Laura Gallitz said...

You are absolutely right! My friends do keep me going, that's for sure. I know it can be done. Let's meet for lunch - one thing I obviously do not sacrifice is eating!

Annie Gallitz said...

I know with my whole being that you ARE a writer, Laura, and that your words have immense value and stand on their own and endure in this universe! also, that your Grandna Annette would be ALWAYS, VERY proud of you, even as I am. and , I know too thar someday, what you hsve always wanted to write, will come forth