It Really Does Come Back to The Writing, Part Two

If it really does come back to the writing, how come it took me so long to realize it?

There I was, mid-20s, working and carousing in Brazil. In the midst of manipulating numbers as a financial analyst, I was also manipulating words on the side. It never occured to me that I might be onto something with the side activity.

Interestingly, it took two particular numbers to veer me away from finance altogether. While in Brazil, I was deluded enough to think that international business might be just the ticket, so I took the business school entrance exam (GMAT). I studied the quantitive portions like a fiend — practice problems upon practice problems until the math leaked out my ears. I glanced over the qualitative sections.

After all that studying, I only managed an 89th percentile for the math sections. Yet, without trying, a 99th percentile for the language sections.

Hellloooooooo, wake-up call. I ask you, how come I hadn’t taken stock of my proclivities before then? Seemed so obvious when I stared at the GMAT results.

Upon returning to the States, I promptly signed up for my first fiction workshop at U.C. Berkeley Extension and applied to and got into NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute. Six months later, I was living in lower Manhatten, the West Village to be exact. Three months after that, I landed a cool job at Warner Books (heaven after finance; books at every turn!) and registered for my second fiction workshop, at NYU.

And that was that, though I didn’t call myself a writer until years later. By then, I’d returned to the West Coast and switched to technical writing as my day-job. When my dot-com employer folded, I decided to live on the dole for awhile.

Here was my challenge: Could I sit down each day (ye old bum glue) and complete a novel before the money ran out? Did I have the right temperament for the work? The willpower? The imagination? A true desire?

Behold, I did. With that, I started calling myself a writer.

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5 thoughts on “It Really Does Come Back to The Writing, Part Two

  1. Lisa,
    I always enjoy your post this one was closer to the heart or my passion for writing. I did not call myself a writer until I completed my job of raising a family (alone); getting to a place where I could actually retire with a meager income and devote my time to writing. I had to take writing serious and make it my full time job. Again, as stated so well by you in past post it has to be a work from one’s heart because there are few Nora Roberts or Steven Kings out there that are going to make millions from writing. I do it for the love of the craft and although the goal is to be recognized I will accept doing what I love for now and getting the small checks.

    Have a great weekend.

  2. Lisa, I have two books out and a bunch of other stuff, and I still do not call myself a writer. I think you are brave and courageous to stick with yourself like this.

    It never occurred to me that I might write a few books (proving that I can do it), see them in print (proving that I can do that, too), and then come to a dead halt. What next? I also never thought that I’d have to be like all the other writers who sit down in front of the blank page (screen) and write without knowing where they are going (like literary Abrahams, “he went out, not knowing where he was going”).

    I’m very glad to be reading you. It reminds me of writing and what it’s really like. It takes everything you said: willpower, imagination, true desire. Add to that courage.

  3. Thanks, cedar, the consolation is that I DO love what I do. We just gotta keep plugging away, eh?

    Eve, hi, nice to hear from you. You are TOO a writer!!! I like your reference to “literary Abrahams.” Is it courage, or is it an innocent kind of foolishness? Sometimes I wonder…

  4. Lisa, I’m going to call it courage. 😉

    But it’s probably a mix of both. I’ve had many naive beliefs in my early years, and now my writing crone merely makes me feel grumpy and silly. But love makes me keep going. I love writing, and I know you know what I mean.

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