By Salynda Hogsett
I hate unknowns.
They put me on edge. I get agitated and peevish and stressed. For example, if we’re friends and we’re planning to go somewhere, don’t tell me you’ll call at some point in the afternoon to say you’re ready to go. You can at least give me an estimate of time, somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00. Or better yet, tell me that you’ll be here at 2:30. Don’t just leave me hanging, waiting for your call.
Since I can get stressed out about the uncertainty in a simple afternoon plan, it will come as no surprise that the unknowns about my future are enough to put me over the edge.
I want to be a writer and editor, I’m just not certain of the best way to get to that point. Writing isn’t like accounting. There isn’t a list of steps to take to be successful. Sure, there are other people who have had writing careers before me, but they have so many different experiences that it’s nearly impossible to see which one is the best. Some people start with other careers, decide to try writing, and just happen to be really good at it. Other go to college to study writing, work for years at publishing, and then enter academia to teach others how to write. Still others become journalists. Other people freelance while working minimum-wage jobs.
All of those those different options have their appeal to me. Part of me wants to be a teacher at a college level, so that would mean graduate school, publication, and teaching experience. Part of me just wants to freelance and work odd jobs, living an unpredictable yet exciting lifestyle. Another part of me wants to move to NYC and work at a magazine, starting out as an assistant and working my way up the chain of command.
With all these possibilities bouncing around in my head, I so often compare myself to the successful writers I meet and read about. Just last week, a young woman came to my writing class and talked to us about how she has gone about getting various internships and building her career based on those. She said that she applied to over one hundred internships (yikes!) before she got two with major newspapers and magazines.
The week before that, Laurie Halse Anderson, a writer for children and young adults, visited that same writing class. She said that she didn’t study writing in college. She simply wanted to tell stories and was really good at it. She puts sixty hours of work in each week to do what she loves. (Also yikes!)
And I can’t help but compare myself to them. While I do gain inspiration from them, they also intimidate me. I’m scared by their ambition and drive because I honestly don’t know if I have that. I don’t know if I have the resilience to take over one hundred rejections in one year and still keep sending out resumes and cover letters. I don’t know if I would be able to work on my writing sixty hours a week. Would I be able to stay focused for that long?
But then I take a step back and remind myself that each of these visitors carved their own path, just like every other writer before them. Even though it goes against my very nature, it’s okay to not have everything figured out.
While I was hoping to have an internship this summer, I doesn’t look like that is going to happen. So I’ll probably get a minimum wage job again, but I will continue to write. I just got a position as a weekly contributor to an online magazine, so I will be writing for them and hopefully finding other freelance opportunities this summer. I guess I’m starting to carve my own path.