Owning My Writing Career: Yeah, I’m A Bitch
I woke from a dream this morning. Not unusual, I dream almost every night. Vivid, movie reel dreams haunt me sometimes for days. This dream reoccurs with various themes. I dreamt of being an air traffic controller, my occupation in my previous life. I haven’t been for almost fifteen years. A story for another day. As always in this dream, I’m working after being rehired and recertified. Familiar faces welcome me back, some with questions, some with doubt, some are glad. This time the dream shifted to include elements of my career as a teacher.
I should mention that I’ve had the ability to remain conscious of my dreaming self my entire life. Funny, ever since the movie (that I didn’t see) people have grown fascinated with the idea of inception. My awareness is a great tool for a writer, particularly when a dream isn’t going well. I’ve been known to stop a nightmare in its tracks to say, “Hey, this is my dream. You have to fall when I shoot you.” These characters like to argue in response, but invariably they accept my logic and pretend to die.
That being said, my frustration at having two different career dreams collide became palpable in the dream. Students of mine training to be air traffic controllers while still demanding lessons from me while I tried to reinstate my credentials as an air traffic controller. Yikes! A moment’s clarion call sounded and the confusion drifted into clarity. One of my students complained to me that people called her a bitch. My response, “Own it. I’ve generally found that when people resort to calling me a bitch, I’m on MY path and not one they want me to walk.” BAM! My conscious dream self looked my sleeping observing self and said, “DUH.” I woke up.
I’d like to take you back a bit to move forward. The decision to leave teaching to devote my energy to writing full time terrified me. The Beard and I discussed it over the course of two years. Once it became clear that we would manifest the first book, we weighed, measured and took the plunge, despite the numerous articles about not quitting your day job to pursue writing. The first few months didn’t really impact me. As a teacher, I’d become accustomed to having summer break. The beginning of the school year found me mentoring my replacement, occasionally subbing, and working with my former colleagues on curriculum. My identity as a writer has always been internally intrinsic, but after I quit teaching nothing felt different. I had the rare teaching dream compared to the number of air traffic dreams I experienced. Those teaching dreams also contained elements that reinforced my decision to quit teaching.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m a difficult person. Defining difficult in these terms: I don’t lie. Sure, I’m a natural storyteller and I know how to punch up the story so it entertains. I don’t lie because my mother is a compulsive liar and has been my entire life. Different story. I’m difficult because my fundamental value as a human being doesn’t depend on what others think of me. This is hard for many people. These types see their value reflected in what other people think. I’m fabulous. I’m a master teacher. I’m a marvelous writer. I’m a stupendous human being. Folks perceive my belief as a lack of humility.
I screw up. We all do. I make mistakes, but those mistakes don’t denigrate my overall goddessness. Truth is that when I mess up, I admit it. It doesn’t hurt me to say, “I’m wrong and I’ll fix it.” Wow, people hate that! The other difficult thing about that quality is that I expect others to understand when they ask me for my input, I’m going to give it. Honestly. My critique isn’t condemnation. That’s a tough one for most people to accept because they’ve wrapped up their value in what I think of them, even if they hate me! Crazy!
Okay, back again. Bear with me. Breaking my ankle brought me to a low point. I’m a terrible invalid. The crappy thing about those three months down (two literally in bed most of the time) was that I couldn’t write. Pain, drugs and pain wiped me out. Laying around, unproductive, dependent upon others…..all maddening and inducing of serious doubt. I hate self-doubt. It’s pointless and hard to shake off. I moved through that with the support of The Beard. The chillens helped….mostly. Oh and the house keeper….she helped a lot! In the past few weeks, I’ve been on a writing tear. I’ve actually cleaned the house a couple of times. My laundry is fairly done. I’m sleeping. Things are settling into pretty darn good.
Last night, I went to bed feeling grateful and happy that I’m a writer. Sure, I still have days. I do have two teenage boys at home, please. I’m bursting with gladness at the idea that my day will include writing. I can deal with the dogs, the boys, the hubby and all of the other domestic duties because I’m working at my passion. Even on the days I don’t find time to write, like bookkeeping days or errand days, I still wake up thrilled that my day is my own and I will write.
True story….my senior year in high school the jealous girlfriend of a boy I’d been going rounds with for a long time (since the 7th grade) painted BITCH on my truck. Big black letters emblazoned each side of the pickup bed. Upon discovery of the graffiti, I stormed from the parking lot back to the main entrance of the school with my two best friends in tow. The guy and several of his buddies stood on the stairs laughing uproariously. They’d waited to see what my reaction would be. I punched him in the nose sending a rewarding spray of blood everywhere. He clutched his nose screaming like a little boy. The exhilaration of that moment still inspires a smile.
Waking from the dream with the A Ha moment brought me full circle into the mindset that I had when I went to bed. This moment rescued me from a few days of writer’s block. Okay, not real block, just “I know where I’m going, I just don’t know how to get there from here” block. More frustrating than full on block, I think. I believe my books will earn me an abundant and gracious living if I have my way. I realize now that I merely flirted with my bitchhood, or as I prefer to call it my goddessness, growing up. I’ve always been independent and assertive, but I needed time, experience and maturity to really own my inner goddess. The same goes for my writing career. I’m owning it. It’s a wonder and it’s my path. “Duh.”