Today’s challenge: What is your dream job?
I change my mind all the time on what I want to write. Books, blogs, newspaper articles, gossip columns…I get lost in the idea of someone reading something with my name in the byline, and I lose all sense of genre. I just want to be a writer. Preferably a successful one.
I would love to write children’s books – not baby books, but the easy reader level ones, the ones that help teach a kid to read, the ones that make kids fall in love with reading. Books like Amelia Bedilia, Frog and Toad, Little Bear, those are the books I remember reading to my parents on the couch before bedtime. I was really excited about the possibilities of being a children’s book author, and in a Children’s Book Publishing course at Portland State, my dreams were buried as the professor spent 10 weeks telling us all the reasons it was never. Going. To. Happen. For any of us. None. Not one person in her class would get a book published. What the fuck kind of professor was this lady? The kind who is out to make you all sad, that’s what kind. Her syllabus consisted of all of the reasons why everyone else will get books published, but not you, and we spent one hour, three times per week, being beat with the you’ll-never-succeed stick before we all took our finals and cried on the way out the door.
What I did learn in her class was that unless I could illustrate my own book (I cannot, as I have no artistic abilities whatsoever), then the way it works is, you write your book, you give it to the editor/publisher, and they assign it to an illustrator, who does the artwork for your words…and then you don’t see the book again until it is like, going to press! This information sent my obsessive compulsive, has-to-be-in-control-at-all-times brain whirling. What if the art doesn’t match what I was saying? What if I hate it? What if I write my whole book and an artist ruins it by not envisioning my story like I want it? This would just not do!
Of course, I could just hire someone to do the art and submit the book as a finished product, but I was in college, I didn’t have good ideas like that.
And so, defeated by Professor Sad, I left the class confident that being a children’s book author was not in the cards for me.
But I still want to write. And I love to travel. *Light bulb.* Travel writing! How amazing would my life be if I could go on vacations, write about my vacations, and get paid to do both!? Umm…totally amazing, right? I wanted it. I could taste it. I was already writing my trip to Australia in my head as days passed by sitting in a travel writing class. At this point in life, all I read was travel essays, whole novels about so-and-so’s trip around the world, short stories about being lost in airports or getting lost in a third world country. This genre was all consuming.
I still think, by the way, that I should write a book about our trip to Australia. We had some funny shit happen, I bet people would read it. And they’d laugh. I could include excerpts from emails I sent my mom when Jenny, Nicole and I were stranded in a bus depot or at the airport. “This is the worst Christmas ever, mom. Love Veronica.”
Q: Why don’t you start writing, Veronica?
A: Uhhmmmmm….awkward blank stare.
After devouring travel books for a while, I became obsessed with memoirs. I am still obsessed with memoirs. It is my favorite genre and my favorite section at the bookstore. I sit there, thumbing through titles thinking, what the hell made this person so special that I am about to spend $16.99 to read about her life? It isn’t like a biography of a famous person, I’m not picking up Marilyn Monroe’s life story. These books could have been written by my next door neighbor, and yet here I am, reading about them. I recently read a memoir called The Tender Bar. And it was the life story of a kid whose dad was a drunk and the kid who ended up owning a bar. That was it. That was the story. And yet, I have loaned it to so many people that I no longer know where my copy is. It was that good. What the fuck, I have worked in a bar for 7 years…why is that not in a novel? Oh, right, because I’m lazy.
Even more recently, I bought a memoir called “My Year with Eleanor.” It was about a girl, my age, who was intrigued by the quote, Do something every day that scares you, and decided to tackle it as a 365 day challenge. First of all, I would totally do this challenge. One year, 365 fears, one tackled each day. Where do I sign up?! Second, what a brilliant idea! Third, writing about it was an even more brilliant idea! This was one of the best books I have ever read, and it was written by some girl who was like 2 years older than me, who randomly based her life on a quote she liked. My. Hero. And yet, this girl could literally be me. Maybe I should write my memoir based on my 30 day blog challenge…
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