Writing and Where My Heart Is

When I was a kid, I dreamed that I would write the next great American novel. I would find myself living in New York in an apartment that looked more like a museum than I home and I would host fancy dinner parties with friends, contemporaries, and other people that respected me. I saw myself having a spouse but no children. I would be Carrie Bradshaw or Carrie Fisher, or even Mary Tyler Moore.

Then in my early 20’s I dreamt big of Chicago. I would be living in this small seedy apartment, alone, where I would use all of my savings to get drunk off of craft beer. I would work several part time jobs to survive, and in my spare time spend hours at a local cafe writing (because I couldn’t afford internet.) I would still write the next great American novel, except that it would be gritty and say something profound about the human condition. Only my friends would read it and they would tell me how good it was. Like Dickinson, I would only be appreciated after my death, when someone would go against my last wishes and have my work published.

I’m 2 months away from 30. I live in Chicago with my fiancé and our three cats. I have a career that I love and that challenges me. While there is still a piece of me that would love to contribute literarily to this uncertain world I don’t think that’s going to happen and I’m learning to be okay with that.

***

B just messed up his sudoku puzzle where he gets up and asks me if I want anything. I pass him my mug filled with cold coffee that has already been microwaved and ask him to reheat it for me.

“Only if you promise you wont want to drink it until it gets cold again.” He jokes. I have a bad habit of doing that. He finds that quirk to be endlessly entertaining.

Moments earlier we were talking about getting furniture for the room I’m converting into my craft space. Lately I’ve taken up drawing again and doing more work with my hands, something after years of writing essays about myself I never thought I would be back into.

From 2011 onward, there seemed to be a boom in personal stories on the internet. Websites like Thought Catalog and XO Jane were popping up all over the place, providing space for amateur writers to create content and get noticed. Many stories, especially ones where the writers had an unpopular opinions about something, went viral. When I moved to Chicago completely on my own accord in 2013, I bought into that. My emotions were raw from the recent passing of my mother and I wanted to bring empathy and solidarity to a platform that didn’t seem like it had a lot of it. I was naive to think that I could bring something new to the grief table.

Despite the fact that none of my “published” stories were largely read, according to the comments they did make a few people feel better for a little while which was enough for me then, and still is for me today. If I’m honest, while I don’t hate most of the content I have floating around on the internet, I’m not proud of it either. When I read my pieces from that time, I see myself as who I actually was- a young, desperate person dying to be seen.

Many of my friends have gone on to benefit from the essay boom- some even recently making hundreds of dollars off stories they sold. They’re all great writers and I’m proud of them. As for me personally, when I think why I wrote so much back then, it’s not shocking to me why I don’t do a whole lot of writing now. I’m healing, I’m growing in ways I never expected myself to, and instead of being that angsty emo-punk kid holding on to my old way of life-fearful that I’ll lose myself, I’m letting it happen and I’m a lot happier for it.

That’s not to say I don’t write. I still do but most of it stays in the saved docs of my computer or gets read aloud to friends when I’m asked how my writing is going after one too many glasses of wine at a (not so) fancy dinner party. I’m allowing myself the sweet gift of privacy as I transition into this new phase of my life without the need to feel like other people can relate to it.

So if anyone’s curious as to how my writing is going, it’s going. If you want to see where my heart is now, I’ll be happy to show you my craft room (once it’s done being furnished, that is.)

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