Are You a Writer or an Accountant?
Easy. I’m a writer.
I know this because it’s the inherent need I feel whenever I am moved by the moment or a moment in time.
It’s a hunger to share — maybe too much but enough to grant that sweet release once the final paragraph is completed.
It’s the joy and comfort of having the gift to place words in the shelves where they belong.
They fit so well in the compartment of my choice that no matter how much they get shuffled around — there is never the danger of them getting dislodged.
It’s the tyranny of being thrown into the workforce as a young bright-eyed creative — hoping for the best and never expecting the worst.
But we don’t always get what we want or what we ask for.
When I was in my twenties — the only way to pursue a writing career was to hope and pray that the editor at the print magazine of your choice would sift through the endless submissions until she struck gold at the mere glance of your name.
I sent letters of inquiry to a lot of places but I was particularly drawn to Jane Magazine and Honey Magazine.
Those were my top choices because I felt confident that if given the chance — I would be the perfect fit.
I was never given the chance.
Jane magazine rejected me numerous times. I still remember tearfully reading the well crafted letters and being pathetically honored that they even bothered to send them.
The logo screaming at me as I drowned myself in the punishing words on the page.
It still felt like a victory that they even acknowledged receiving my plea for acceptance.
Honey magazine was a harder blow. After bearing the silent treatment like a pro — a stroke of luck brushed against me when my aunt started dating the guy who worked in the graphics department.
What were the odds?!
Once he found out that I was interested in joining his company — he agreed to help. We worked on a strategy and he gave me pointers on how to draft my cover letter and resume.
I couldn’t believe my luck! Finally! At the age of thirty — I was going to land my dream job.
The editor-in-chief at the time was Michaela Angela Davis — and after receiving my materials through a trusted source — she was ready to talk to me.
The plan was to have a phone conversation the Monday after the July 4th weekend.
I recall the feeling of euphoric anticipation as I vividly mapped out what the next couple of years would look like as a writer at a top women’s magazine in New York City.
Monday came and exploded like a pent up firecracker.
Honey’s publisher — Vanguard Media ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2003. But earlier that year — I was desperately trying to work there and oblivious to the impending doom.
I found out earlier than most because of how close I came to getting the job of my career.
I was devastated but not discouraged. I still believed that the day would come when I would assume the role of a full time writer.
Fast forward to 12 years later and that goal has been achieved.
But. It took blood, guts and more guts and and gory splashes of blood to make it happen. And I’m not even close to where I want to be.
When I hear writers in their twenties bemoan their circumstances — I totally get it.
It sucks to be young, ambitious and talented with no consistent source of validation and monetary compensation.
If anyone knows what that feels like — I do.
I also know what its like to have no options when it comes to displaying your goods and services. At will.
I know how it feels to fantasize about a future that will give you the opportunity to curate your own pieces without the approval of an over-worked editor.
You can be your own editor and produce the kind of content that matches your viable range.
Well, gosh darn it! Here we are! Dreams really do come true!
It’s 2016. I’m much older now but still able to partake in the benefits that come with the modern times.
The digital age has supplied us with the wonder of being able to rely solely on the validity of our visional templates.
You don’t have to ask or wait for permission to publish your words.
You don’t have to send a plethora of letters to hazy editors who just want to be left alone.
You can write to your heart’s desire and track how many people read it, like it or really like it.
I am jealous that as a young writer — I was deprived of this privilege but I am making up for lost time.
I quit my disgusting job at one of the top financial institutions in the country to perfect my craft.
It has taken me almost three years to make it half way to the top but I’m not complaining.
I was forced to work my ass off because I had no choice. It was either that or die a slow and painful death.
The truth is that when young people express the pain of having to do all the things I did under much dire circumstances — I instinctively shut down.
I would’ve been absolutely psyched to be a twenty something writer with a blog.
I would’ve been over the moon at the notion that I can submit my work at the click of a button and get feedback minutes later.
The numbers game is a brutal sport. The reasons are embedded in the need to impress based on contrived articles that are supposed to guarantee your status as a master of numbers — not words.
You are crippled as a writer when balancing the budget of your output surpasses the need to worship your own words before they hit the page.
I’ve never been motivated by the thrill of manipulating readers to buy what I’m selling at any cost.
I write for selfish reasons. It’s a symbolic release from chains undone. I enter a mind field that harbors what needs to be set free.
When people are drawn to my work — it’s awesome but it’s not the fuel that drives me.
Maybe it’s because I spent so much time writing for my eyes only.
Maybe it’s because I don’t expect to be rewarded every time I expose the most fragile facets of my being.
I do it for the glory of connecting with minds that match my disposition. And also for the ones that don’t get my actions but respect it.
I do it for attention when it’s warranted. The missing Nigerian school girls gave me the incentive to write a pieces that honor their cursed journey.
One particular article went viral but it was an organic set up.
I never imagined the level of response would be so dramatic. I never conceived that possibility while grinding away.
All I want is the freedom that comes with self-expression.
Tallying up numbers before creating the contours of your piece is the reason why you’re not resonating.
Being caught in the web of discontent isn’t helping either.
Lose the numbers and reclaim your winning complexities.
Write everyday and enjoy the space between you and your recipients.
Ignore the spreadsheets that provide the sum of all the parts that you think prove your worth.
Don’t write when the selfish bug of recognition and dominance bites you to bits.
Bite back and use the battlefield as the launching pad for all your uncontaminated pursuits.
You are not special. You are not above the law of life’s requirements.
And you are are not an accountant.
You’re a writer. And finally — so am l.
So, let’s get to it!