Pretending: the Job of a Writer
When I was younger, my sister and our friends would constantly play in a world of make believe. We always had a flare for the dramatic, and liked to pretend we were orphans in the twentieth-century on a ship sailing to the untouched country of promise that was America. If not orphans, than we were princesses. Then we were spies, stealthily hiding clues across our backyard and trying to trick the other rival spy-team. We went through a videography phase after I got my ‘new’ digital camera and learned how to use Windows Movie Maker and even made our own terribly cheesy action flick about a clumsy spy who ended up saving the world. Although I’m sure if I saw it now it would seem awful, we were very dedicated and ended up with a thirty minute long mockumentary (before it was even a thing, I might add) including bloopers. After we tired of spying, we moved on to being mermaids in the pool during the still heat of summer. We were pretty imaginative little girls, and these bouts of pretending, and dolling up in the crazy costumes we made out of contents of the dress up bin, are some of my fondest memories.
Sometimes I feel like the job of a writer is to pretend. I constantly feel like I am pretending to be “a real writer.” The world of the writer seems to be one of make believe – where stories are published and paid for, where success is easily at hand, and where imaginary worlds become reality with only a few words. Really, though, writing is tedious work with little reward, and I’ve realized that someone really can’t plan to become a writer unless they genuinely love their craft. Just like my friends and I used to pretend when we were little, I have come to pretend in a new way as a grown up (take not that I use that term extremely loosely when referring to myself). As adults, I think we all put on a facade and act like people we are not. For different people that means different things. For me this often means putting on a brave face and sending out stories that I have combed through a million times in hopes of getting a yes, or publishing my words on the internet pretending like I am confident in what I have written. Oftentimes I feel a little shaky. It’s tough reading the words of incredibly intelligent and talented individuals and then trying to live up to them.
I think that’s where I go wrong, though. When I was little, I didn’t care if I was living up the expectations of others. It didn’t matter that my friends and I weren’t putting on an Oscar-worthy performance in our spy themed short film. It didn’t matter that our clothing when pretending to be orphans in the 1800s wasn’t historically accurate or even very orphan-like (I’m pretty sure old wedding gowns from garage sales weren’t the typical attire of orphans). We created our own world, though, and we lived in it wholeheartedly. That’s the key. Whether I am a “real writer” or I’m pretending to be one, I need to just embrace the fact that I write. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not (hopefully it is), but I love writing. I genuinely love crafting something out of nothing – taking a stark white page and filling it with someone, some place, and something. My sincerest hope is that this something is actually worthwhile, but ultimately I’m the judge of that. If I put all of my effort and time into creating a work of writing, then it is worthwhile. Even if only to me.
Just like that spy movie was great to all of us while we were making it. We must have watched it fifty times, just between the five of us who were in it. We loved making that movie. I love writing. There’s success in that, even if it’s not the typical type. Success is ultimately in doing what you love, and I’m certainly doing that.