Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Ballerina Lawyer

One of my co-workers has a sign on the window of her office asking passers-by what they wanted to be when they were children. I don't remember all of the responses but I'm pretty sure "superhero", "Dallas Cowboy cheerleader", and "Princess Leia" were all posted by my colleagues. It's a fun question to think about especially since so many people probably aren't what they wanted to be when they were children. Some of the jobs we have today weren't even realities back then.

I haven't filled out a post-it note yet but if I did it would say "Ballerina Lawyer."

A ballerina lawyer isn't a lawyer for ballerinas but a ballerina who happens to also be a lawyer. Every time I tell people this is what I wanted to be, they always ask me to elaborate on what exactly a ballerina lawyer would do. Obviously practice the law and dance like a bad ass. This is not challenging if you think about it. I've also had several people suggest that this has all the makings of an excellent television show. Maybe I've stumbled on the next edition of Law & Order. I'd watch marathons of this show on USA.

If I'm honest with myself I've never really known what I wanted to be, career-wise, when I grow up. I feel like I've had what I'd call a "stumble upon career" pathway. I started teaching because I could and I had skills and a background (theater) that the school was looking for at the time. That led me to admissions in a roundabout way which led me to working for my current company. Since I joined at the time it was more startup than corporation, I did a little bit of everything and found that I'm a teacher and writer at heart. That's mostly what I do these days but I can tell you that none of this was on the this when I was five or fifteen or twenty.

If I continue to be honest with myself, I know that I've always wanted to be a writer. I like telling stories and entertaining people. Creating characters and the worlds and places makes me happy. I love words and putting them together in ways that make sense. This is partially why I have dutifully kept this blog going for the past five years. I've written all sorts of things on the Island; some more successful than others. Y'all really like Pumpkin. From what I can tell there needs to be 80% more Pumpkin on the Island. I'm not sure I agree with that but I'll try to give the people what they want more frequently. I feel a "Pumpkin's Guide to Summer" coming soon (she did help you survive a blizzard earlier this year).

But does this make me a writer? I've never really had anything "published" although I have been featured on my company's blog a few times and I tried posting on LinkedIn this summer (more coming soon). Something I wrote was featured in another author's book but I don't know if that counts either. I don't really want to get into a philosophical discussion/debate on what it means to be a writer or an artist. I believe I am one and that has to be enough.

This year I decided to focus my attention on getting my first novel published or at least on the road to being published. I wrote Transient Suburbia for 2014's National Novel Writing Month. I was able, in 23 days, to write a novel just over 50K words (meeting the requirements of NaNoWriMo). It has a beginning, middle, and end. I wasn't able to do everything I wanted to do given the constraints of the month but I ended up with a really great story and characters I love. I've been editing, revising, and adding since December 2015. With the exception of one thing, I feel like I've done as much as I can without getting actual feedback from other people. I'm finally ready to let other people read it completely. I gave myself until the end of the April to get the draft to a place I felt comfortable with sharing. I enlisted four of my friends to be readers.

I have sent the novel out into the world and I cannot take it back.

On one hand, I relieved and excited to see what they think. I need feedback in order to move forward. A certain amount of stress has been lifted. It's readable, funny, and I think a good story. On the other hand, I'm terrified at the prospect of them reading it. Yes, I posted portions of the novel here on the Island so it's not a secret but it's also not the same thing. I'm nervous and I don't get nervous that easily.What if they hate it? What if they think every character is terrible? What if it's predictable? So many negative thoughts go through my head when I think of them reading through the story. I can't help myself. I assume this is why #hemingwaywasadrunk. 

More to come on the adventure that is Transient Suburbia.

Next week the UT Recipe book opens again! This time we'll try a cake recipe many affectionately call "Secret Ingredient Cake" because revealing one of the ingredients may not inspire a desire to enjoy it as one should. Curious? Check back next week to find out what the secret ingredient is.

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