Archive for August, 2008

I’ve Got the Itch

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” – Eugene Ionesco

If you’d asked me five, ten, or even twenty years ago what I’d be doing for a living in my early thirties, I would have given the same answer each time, without hesitation: a writer. From a very young age, when I spent long afternoons pounding out melodramatic stories on my grandmotherís massive electric typewriter, I’ve always known it was what I was supposed to do — that, in fact, I had very little choice in the matter.

Through my teens and early twenties, working as a writer meant nothing less than becoming a famous novelist, cranking out bestsellers from my beach house. As I grew older, I allowed the definition of the word to stretch a bit, writing articles for local papers during college and submitting stories to magazines. After graduation, when the bills started rolling in, I held positions as a technical writer, an e-commerce copywriter and, later, my present-day gig as a freelance copywriter, all the while telling myself that as long as “writer” was somewhere in my job title, I wasn’t officially “selling out”.

The problem was, it wasn’t enough. Every couple of months, I’d get what I called “the itch” — an uncontrollable urge to return to the type of writing I truly loved, to create something original and interesting, to indulge the idea for whatever novel happened to be marinating in my mind at the time. The past decade has been a constant struggle for time to write — a moment stolen here, an afternoon there. Somehow I managed to finish three novels, two of which were represented by literary agents, one of which was good enough to snag the interest of several reputable editors before they ultimately declined.

After that last wave of submissions, I took a year-long hiatus from creative writing, busy with the demands of my job and growing family. After the birth of my third daughter, though, the itch was back in a big way — not so much a desire to write as a NEED. Any writer knows what Iím talking about: the certainty that nothing else is as important or as fun as writing, that a day with no creative output is a day wasted.

And so, six weeks ago, I started scratching. After quite a few late nights and stolen weekend afternoons, I’ve suddenly found myself 30,000 words into a novel thatís feeling like an old friend. And as I heard a fellow writer say once, if you enjoy writing it, others will more than likely enjoy reading it.

Of course, my weekdays are still filled with freelance writing jobs, and those provide a different type of satisfaction. I love what I do: hopping from one job to the next, learning something new every day, interacting with clients from all corners of the world. But at the end of the day, it always circles back to that little girl’s dream, to her matter-of-fact conviction that she’d see her name on the shelves someday. I may not have the advantage of her naive confidence, but hey, I’ve got the itch. And with lots of work and a generous helping of luck, it may just be enough.