A Writer Just Starting Out
“Well, I guess I’m still figuring that out.” I stammer thinking to myself, “Do I really have to pick one genre? One type of thing to write.” In a moment, my mind flashes with the children’s book that I am working on for my three year old, the fantasy novel I just finished for elementary age children, the novel I just started for young adults, the random magazine articles I’m working on.
“So, you’re just starting out.” She said, smiling.
“Well, no… I mean… I’ve blogged for ten years. I…I just finished my first book... a fantasy story for elementary age kids, I think. And I started another novel this week.” I stumble over my words, my nervous energy filling the space between us.
Just starting out.
Something within me rises up in protest. No. I’m not just starting out. I’m thirty years old and I’ve been fascinated with story for as long as I can remember. I feel like I’ve been writing since I was little. Perhaps that doesn’t count. But, blogging for ten years, filling page after virtual page with thoughts, stories, and ideas has to count for something. Spending three years (on and off) on a story and finally finishing it has to count for something. The journals filled with scribbled poems, the computer files filled with stories started, it all has to count for something, right?
I don’t want to be just starting out.
I always thought that by the time I was thirty I would be somewhat established. I would know what I wanted to do and I would be doing it. And in a way I was right. I do feel like I have come to a new found clarity about myself and what I want to do as I have entered my thirties, but, somehow, I thought I’d be farther down the road. Not just starting out.
Today I am sitting in a coffee shop all by myself for the first time since having kids. And it feels amazing! But, as I pull out my computer and read again over the novel I’ve just started a reality washes over me… I am just starting out.
So, today I’m writing a new response to the kind Sarah Madson, and to the world:
Yes, I’m just starting out…and I’m terrified. I’m a thirty year old mom with two kids, who’s secretly dreamed about being an author for more years than I can count, but who’s only recently gotten up the courage to really try.
I don’t have hours and hours to write, re-write, and write again. With two young kids, my life is not entirely my own. My family tells me I have some skill, but what do they know? None of them are authors. They are biased by love. So, when it comes down to it I have no idea if I really have what it takes, or have the time and mental space to put in the work to get what it takes.
I’m stepping into a world that I know nothing about and my fear makes me want to pretend that I know what I’m doing, pretend that I’m farther along than I am. But, the truth is I am just starting out. And all I really have is desire... and somewhere buried within me I hope that there is just one story worth telling. One story that the world wants and needs to hear.
Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany Stedman