So, last week, I left my job. I was working at a rehab center for drug and alcohol addicts and teaching creative writing. Wow, how do I even begin to tell you about that amazing experience? The kids changed my life. So did the stories I heard from people in recovery. (More on this as the blog develops.)
But there is something else out there for me. I wanted, and have always wanted, to be a writer. Below is a picture of my new writing desk. A friend was clearing out her apartment, and she gave me the desk for $10. The old desk was a tiny IKEA mess.
All along the walls of my room are post-it notes with ideas for stories. Some of them will be unsuccessful; others, I believe, will be published stories, poems, and other projects. And it’s only the beginning. So let me tell you a bit about what I learned over the last year that has prepared for this journey.
When I was working at the rehab center, I was commuting from Long Beach to Woodland Hills. Now, if you know nothing about Southern California, let me put this into context. Five days a week, I drove 44 miles in the worst traffic in the country, which sometimes would take me two hours one way. That’s like driving from the East Coast of Florida to Tampa. Basically, I found myself staring into brake-light machinery that devoured my spirit. And while I was stuck in that traffic, I was checking my phone to see if I received an e-mail — oh that glorious electronic ticket — that my novel was finally accepted for representation by a literary agent.
During my Master of Fine Arts Program at Florida International University, I wrote a book. A novel in stories about growing up in my hometown, dealing with a mother who had a mental illness, and trying to find the place where I belonged. It’s a good book, and I still believe in that book. Even though I have been passed on about 100 times. And I won’t ever stop — though I am writing a new one — and when you read this blog, you’ll be following my journey to get that book published. It’s called, It Happened This Way a.k.a The Adventures of James Tully.
What I’m trying to say is that during my commute I learned patience. For a year, I went to work, waiting for the day to appear when I could actually say, yes, I am a real writer.
Every Friday, I listened to this counselor, this man with a mullet, talk about powerlessness. I heard him say you have to admit your lack of control to find serenity. I hated that. All I wanted was to be a writer. I couldn’t figure out why I was at that rehab and what trade winds had blown me there, but, like the saying goes, I kept coming back. Mostly for those kids. And that counselor kept talking about admitting powerlessness, accepting that you are where you are for a reason. Of course, he wasn’t talking to me, but that didn’t stop it from sinking in.
So, the rest of that story at the rehab center is a much longer one, which I will be telling later. This post is simply supposed to mark the beginning — the start of my journey towards making a living as a freelance writer, the start of the mission to accomplish my dream, the start of a path where I have no idea, honestly, where it’s heading. I’m tired of waiting in traffic. I know that I can write, and I have a woman behind me who believes. We’ll call her Heron in this blog.
So far as a freelance writer, I have one client, and I’ve been writing for some cool magazines in L.A. Surely, it’s going to be a struggle. I’m going to have to work 7 days a week and deal with a lot of rejection. After working at the rehab center, however, I found something that will carry me through this adventure. I wish I could put it into words for you — well, I will try during this blog — but like one of my students said, what I found is something ineffable.
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you’ll continue. You’ll be a part of my failures and successes towards becoming a writer. Maybe you’ll even want to share your adventures or comments with me. I’m just writing this to document my experience. No matter what happens.