Why I am a Writer
A week now since I’ve left home to become a writer.
Or really, I left home a month ago, subletting my bungalow in anticipation of lowered income to move in with my Aunt before Italy. But a week in this new country, at any rate.
I feel lucky that I did not bloat my expectations of this new journey, for almost certainly the fall would have been more painful. This little housesit in Italy has been underwhelming.
Friends keep asking me how wonderful it is and to send them pictures, but the truth is that I am here to work. To isolate myself and listen to my insides and figure out what—at 30—I want to do with my life. (For now, at least.)
How did I get here? Good question—can’t answer it.
One day recently, I just kind of decided to become a writer. It happened after a month in France and Italy with my sister and soon after my birthday, so I suppose there’s something there…
How does something like that just happen? I don’t trust it, and yet I must. What other options do I have? (besides doing a million other things that I don’t want to do, of course.)
This past summer I was staying at Federico’s flat in Genova. He was a lovely [looking] psychotherapist with whom I was couchsurfing, and since we hit it off, two days turned into ten, and I used his kitchen as my playspace while he was at work.
It was there that I was hit with an idea for a short story, and within the hour I had it written. And lo, it had been fun. But more, it was fulfilling in a way that I hadn’t felt before. It dawned on me that what I’d just done was use a creativity in me that I’d been running from.
Yes, running. Setting out to be a writer is not exactly a surefire path to success.
Or maybe it was befriending Adam ten months ago. He stood blissfully grinning beside one of my good friends at an art show in downtown LA and as one of the few non-hipsters there, I made a beeline for him.
We got to talking about his career as a journalist and the book that he’d soon have published, One Breath (read it!). I got his contact information and remained friends with him in part because we had a natural rapport, but perhaps also in part because I needed to see in-person the way one could live as a writer.
When Adam was 31 he was reading a travel magazine and a particular article struck him; He thought, “I can do that!” And just like that, a new career was begun.
His meager income first came through grant-writing. He dodged various housing evictions and tried ignore the shame he felt when his father suggested he get a job at McDonald’s.
Then came up with the idea to walk the length of Santa Monica Boulevard and got his first article published about the experience within the first year. Nearly 15 years later, he’s followed up with another one about his 22-mile trek across Sunset Boulevard, and I’d wager his writing’s gotten a bit more interesting since that first job (his words not mine!). In the years between, he’s become an award-winning international journalist and an author the world’s best book on Freediving and for Lonely Planet (30 times over!)
So maybe it’s simply that—maybe one day ideas enter our heads and we just follow them. Everything has a starting point, right? Maybe finding one’s truly desired career path is like falling in love—you’re just struck and you know.
For me, that is what this has felt like. I was expecting to continue with my lackluster contentedness as an actor and spokeswoman, and suddenly the prospect of being a writer entered my head and there was no turning back.
I am not only afraid of failing—I am also afraid that I am wrong to trust myself in wanting this at all. So many things I’ve wanted to be in my life, so many different trails I’ve tried to blaze. What if this is just another unreliable flight of fancy? What if I put in all this time and effort and after another two years I find again that I don’t feel fulfilled? Even if the money has begun to come in, I won’t be able to stay.
I fear this recurrence of disillusionment because if it happens again, I will have to ask a big question:
Is the issue finding the right “thing,” or do I actually just resist finding personal happiness?
For now, I’m not sure what else I can do but push on, keep working on myself, and hope that everything turns out alright.
The quest for happiness … I wish it could be more happy sometimes.
How do you deal with self-doubt? With existential doubt, even?
How did you know you were on the right path—did the moment strike you or had you always known? Leave a comment!