So said Stephen King.
He also said, “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dated, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Mr. King’s lesson is hard learned. I’ve been around the world in the worst possible places because I thought to go must be the right thing. I found a love of teaching and a hatred of glazed eyes because that was my assignment that year. I have experienced the height of bliss and the bottom of despair within the same minute and due to the same person–one that I incidentally created because it seemed a good idea at the time.
I’ll grant you that the hottest armpit in the Middle East and the ugliest desert in the American Southwest have made me as much of the person that I am today as the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and the impossible greens of Ireland. And even though they can make me lose the will to live, I’d still walk through fire for my two babies.
There’s a reason.
It took me fifteen years–self-denial, creative damage and destruction in the military, and heaven knows the endless hours I wasted in Accounting I and II and Business Law–but I’ve regained the intuition that six-year-old me knew:
I’m a writer.
It isn’t for money, for fame, for getting laid or making friends. It’s for you. It’s for me.
I write because that’s who I am.
My husband, my mother, my sisters, and my friends have all exploded encouragement in my direction. Giving me time to write, space to think, and oh, the ideas! They know what I know.
All those hours in a flapping sandy tent mentally composing stories, those moments in college psychology classes and history classes thinking not about the facts but about the stories aching to be told, and that moment when I first sat down to teach my daughter the letter “A”, something was building up.
And here it is.
It’s about getting up. Acknowledging within myself that I can’t contain it any longer. Ignoring the well-meant advice and less-friendly jokes about being an author. Screw you, high school counselor.
It’s about getting well. Funneling the nightmares and the panic, the terrifying possibilities, out of my brain and into a story where you can understand what I mean when I say that I’m scared or angry or hurt. The truths inside the lies.
It’s about getting happy. Because it isn’t all fear and panic. Life is joy in pain and strength in weakness. I want to tell you about it. I write so that I can tell me about it.
I hope you read it. I hope you like it. I hope you hate it. I hope it makes you feel. If you want to give me money, great. I’ve got three books coming out soon. I’ve got some short stories, too, and they’re for free because it isn’t about the money. You want to tell your friends about me, cool. I want to share as much as I can with as many as I can. You don’t want to be my friend, that’s alright. I love you anyway.
Love yourself, too. Say “screw you” to whoever it was that told you painters make no money, singers must also be attractive, or quantum physics is a dead-end. Do it. Do what makes you happy. Then let me know how it goes.
And freelance a little on the side. We all gotta eat, right?