First (for those who don’t know me) I’m going to tell you that I’m a graphic designer. I went to a technical school for it my senior year of high school. I thought that’s what I would be. But secretly I knew it was always my fallback career. I paid my way through community college, graduating in 2004 with an Associate in Visual Communications. I freelance. I work in a cushy little T-shirt printing company. It’s life. It’s not the life I want or wanted. It pays my bills, but it’s not the life I want to live.
Growing up I had always wanted to be an actress. I was fascinated by the thought of being another person. I was picked by the teacher to read the role of Laura in the Glass Menagerie in 11th grade English. I loved it! I was reading, speaking someone else’s thoughts. But at the same time I was too scared of what people thought of me, of my looks and appearance. I was overweight and shy and too withdrawn to do anything about it (like get up in the school plays). If I could go back to my 13 year old self, I’d tell her, “It doesn’t matter what other people think of you; they’re just as nervous about what you think of them as you are of what they think of you. There’s no perfect person. There’s only you and there’s only one of you. If you just let go, you can be more comfortable in your own skin than you think.”
Instead of following my dreams of becoming an actress I turned to something safe, where I wouldn’t have to worry about being talked about, judged on my looks: a career that to most people is considered a “solitary” career: WRITING. (But it is far from solitary, I can tell you that now.)
In writing I was able to create the “dream role,” that someone else’s thoughts I felt reading Laura in the Glass Menagerie. I was able to tell a story without worrying about my looks.
I started my novel in 2005. I wrote long-hand during the day behind the t-shirt dryer at work, pausing to fold the shirts coming off the hot dryer and then going back to scribbling and filling about three 5-subject notebooks. I would transcribe my notes by night into my laptop, that very night or I wouldn’t be able to read my scrawl.
While I worked on the novel I avoided dating though I pined for it. I didn’t spend time with friends because I didn’t have many (though that has changed!). And the worst part, to me, was letting go of my dreams of becoming an actress. I sent my first draft of Undisclosed to agents in 2006 and received nothing but rejections, even though I had prepared myself. They say to prepare for rejection and it won’t sting as much—that’s a lie, it stings a hell of a lot more than you think. I was disheartened.
I put the novel away until 2008 when I started attending the RBWG free writes. I was approached by Maribeth, the founder and now-director, to read part of my “mystery” at a public reading. The first time I would ever read my work in front of anyone. I was nervous. I read my work out loud whenever I could. Then I started taking Maribeth’s novel class. It was then that I realized that my work was rejected for a reason: It wasn’t ready yet. In fact, it sucked. It was horrible. But now it’s almost there. I started writing the book because I couldn’t chase my other dream and now this book has become a second dream. And this second dream is almost done. I’m finishing up the edits.
And when I edit, I need to have on background noise: Movies, music, television. It helps me concentrate. I’ve always been sound-inclined. I need to hear something or see something. I cannot work in silence. To me, silence is deadly to creativity. I need that noise, that creativity to concentrate (sounds dumb, but I do). Lately I’ve been watching a television show via netflix dvds.
Since I’ve always wanted to be an actress I’ve always been curious as to what it’s like to film movies. I watch the extras: The behind-the-scenes tours, the blooper reels (I know that if I’m ever an actress I’ll be the main actor on these), the making-of featurettes. While watching and listening to these (while working on my “second dream,”) I realized that I hadn’t followed my first dreams. I hadn’t chased the one original dream I had wanted, and still do want. And I could spend weeks wallowing in the worst way, torturing myself on what I hadn’t done or accomplished in my life, on what I’d abandoned, on what I’d given up because of my fear. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll do the opposite.
2013 is going to be the start of a new and wonderful creative career. I’m finishing up my first novel. I’m starting a screenplay. I want to be involved in so many different things. I want to go after those abandoned dreams and follow them to a new beginning.
And to quote a great friend, Jes, “Life is all about taking chances!”
So 2013 will be my year of second chances.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” –George Eliot