I have parents who did what they loved for a living. If you have read enough of my posts, you’ll gather that my father was a pretty successful writer. My mom did soul-satisfying work for non-profits and now writes award-winning poetry. I grew up in a creative household, with a heavy focus on reading the classics, pursuing arts like ballet, piano and riding and academic excellence was a must. The area in which we lived is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, and quite possibly the world’s most materialistic area. I’ve been to New York City, lived in London, spent quite a bit of time in the O.C., and yet I still feel quite comfortable with that statement.
I went to both private and public schools over the years. At the private school, kids would line up at the curbside and note whose mother had what kind of car. My mom’s Subaru station wagon didn’t quite hack it. While my parents made a decent living, most of my peers had much more money. (And were quite flashy with it.) This lack of material goods on my part made me feel inadequate. I vowed at a young age to pursue a practical form of living that would pay well.
I did my best, and worked for many years at various corporate jobs, and I was quite good at this work. If lucrative pay was my goal, I should have entered the banking world. My pay, while pretty decent, didn’t rate high enough for the job satisfaction, which was low.
I also think I was just downright intimidated to pursue the family business. I kept my love of writing a secret. It’s relatively easy to become a corporate hack. The odds of becoming a successful writer run about even with the chances of becoming a successful actor. Or, 1%. Then, my brother turned his hand to fiction. He’s getting his M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and has been published. He’s also the next Denis Johnson. And I’m not just saying that. You can read him here, and form your own opinion. WARNING: graphic content.
My father told me once that writing is about one thing: rejection. I used to be awful at that. But I am around people who question my every move and discourage many actions I take. At first (and by at first, I mean for many years) I was cowed and depressive. But now I realize this criticism has formed a sort of hard callus around my soul, and it has given my ambition wings. I finally made that NIAW video for Resolve, and put my face into the world of mean people and trolls, because I realized I’m tougher now: I can take the taunts. I’m stronger.
CookedHeads, my go-to-guru, posted this today, along with a great quote from Ira Glass (and graphic I hope she doesn’t mind if I reuse):
I am jjiraffe, and I want to be a writer. I need to work harder and accept rejection.