My First Day as a Writer
By Hannah Schwartz – Author
I was in the second grade when I decided I was going to be a writer, but it wasn’t until I was 29 that I decided to quit my job and give writing an actual try. I was so excited my first day as A Writer. I had no job, no real idea what to do other than write. I spent the whole night before dreaming up book covers and rehearsing the witty yet touching banter that I would share with Oprah when she clutched my book to her heart and told the studio audience how it changed her life. I spent the royalties in my mind – a golf vacation in Scotland for my parents, a shiny new car for myself. That morning of my first day came and I couldn’t get out of bed. The idea of sitting down and actually writing – for an hour, let alone a living – terrified me. It made me sick to my stomach. I finally willed myself out of bed and I sat at my computer and I started to feel better. I cracked my knuckles and positioned my hands and thought, “ah, magic time!” I had no plan. No outline. No idea if I was writing an article, a novel, a greeting card, an essay. I thought inspiration would just hit, right there, because this was my Writing Time and I was A Writer. At work. Writing.
Nothing happened. My fingers sat limp and unmoving on the keyboard. I made a cup of tea, dramatically rubbed my temples. Nothing. Then, I decided, a journal entry. I’ll write about why I can’t write. Ten minutes, tops. I wrote furiously and refused to self-edit until my time was up. My hands cramped; I must have been writing for hours. I looked at the clock. Four minutes had passed. I chugged along and at the stroke of minute ten collapsed in an exhausted, satisfied heap over my keyboard. At least I had done something. I rewarded myself with a hunk of cake and sat down to read what I had written, to figure out which gem I could harvest and mine for my memoirs; something about the tortuous life of dormant brilliance being roused awake.
I almost choked on my cake.
Everything I had written was horrible. Nonsensical. Melodramatic, pedestrian, juvenile. What wasn’t was regurgitated garbage from a college journal entry that I had read the night before and was still putzing around in my head.
This writing business, it’s going to be a long, long haul.
I took a short sabbatical after that incident, then gave myself license to suck. That made things a little easier, but frustrating none the less. I was stretching my ten minutes to twenty and eventually to 30, but things weren’t looking too much better. But I’d persevere. I’d get better. I’d admit to myself that I was no Sylvia Plath or Anne Lamott – brilliant writers who actually sat down and practiced their craft, and who never expected genius to flow the first time around. I was humbled, I was a student, I would just keep at it. It started to work. Little by little my dream became more of a reality. I had a routine, even if it had to be squeezed between the incessant need to vacuum the drapes (which I had never, ever done in the past) and bake Snickerdoodles for homeless men living in my church. My dream became a priority, and then it became a little more real. And then it became my life and I have an agent and a three book deal with Kensington Publishing!