When I was 14 years old, I told my dad I wanted to be a writer. I could feel it in my bones. I knew writing was what gave my life its most profound meaning. I could taste it.
“I think I want to be a writer,” my young, tender self announced. “I think I would love to do it as my job.”
He told me writing is a hobby, and not to get my hopes up.
Now, let’s not be too harsh on my dad. He was of the “work hard and earn your keep” generation. He told me lots of things that served him well: work hard, be nice, don’t make trouble. It is certainly not his fault that I was born in the generation that would live to realize working hard would never be enough. It’s not his fault that being nice means being stepped on. And as a man, my father could never understand how “don’t make trouble” really means “be quiet” for a woman. And to his credit, I listened and did what he said for a long time. I practiced writing as a hobby. I worked hard. I paid my own way. I was able to stand on my own two feet. I stayed out of trouble. And I was very quiet.
Then, I found myself.
I saw myself walking down the street one day, carrying my work bag and my lunch box. Thirty-something now, I fought down the frustrations of my work day, and collapsed onto a bench near my house.
“I hate this,” I heard myself say aloud.
I looked deeply into myself and found a 14 year old girl with colorful pens in her hands, staring hopefully back at me. Her eyes were pleading.
“I think I want to be a writer,” she whispered. Her voice was soft, and weak from lack of use. “I think I would love to do it. As my job.”
I looked that child in the face, wiped a tear from my eye, and promised her, “Let’s do it.”