While walking and talking business with a good friend, I was marveling aloud at how blessed I have been, finding myself able to enjoy what I do, in a field that was completely unexpected, and to be able to help support my family.
She is amazing and wonderful and has known me for more than a decade. She has seen me buried in a cluttered dorm room, watched me date my husband, danced at my wedding. We have helped each other move into new homes, visited each other after giving birth, cheered each other on through college degrees and career moves. We have walked countless laps around parks, neighborhoods, campuses, beaches. And on this walk, along with telling me that she is proud of me, of how business is going, she added, I’m sorry the whole writing thing didn’t work out.
I think I replied something to the effect of, Well, I’m not dead yet. There will be time for writing after the kids aren’t constantly at my knees.
And we laughed, both understanding how family takes time and space in life. We walked on, talking about how little time we have to even go and do things like that, walking, exercising, taking forty minutes for ourselves.
Her words carried with me in the ride home, as I tucked my children in to their beds, as I sat down to edit through another wedding album’s worth of images for a client.
Sorry that whole writing thing didn’t work out.
In a very real sense, she is right. At this moment in my life, by any financial standpoint, “that whole writing thing” didn’t work out. I don’t make my living with words, I don’t sell books or sign my work at the local Barnes and Noble. Those sixty-thousand dollars in master’s degree payments that I’ll be making until my grandchildren are in college, yeah, they’re not getting paid by my works of fiction.
I haven’t submitted to a literary journal in ages. I haven’t written a new short story in over a year.
But then, I know in my heart, she is also wrong. My writing is not a career path, it is a path to revelation, to relationship. It’s how I connect with people. It’s how I figure things out, how I express the parts of myself that I didn’t even realize needed expressing until they’re spelled out before me and I can finally go to sleep.
Have I written a best seller? No. But I have notes from a women who have lost their mothers and who happened to come across my story The Simplest of Acts in an old Family Circle Magazine and were so touched and felt so understood that they found it necessary to track me down via the magazine or via my alma mater, just to send me a personal thank you. In some small way, they found a little healing in my 1500 words or less.
Something typed up from my imagination was beautiful, was useful.
More than a paycheck, the satisfaction I have in that is something that you can’t buy or sell or put in the bank.
And even now, in looking at my little Simply Mella business, it’s all story telling. As I cull through the images from each family session or wedding, I find myself following the lines of an experience, a story, unique to each family or event.
As with each story, there is a beginning:
There are relationships:
And maybe some romance:
Which sometimes leads to drama:
And, if you’re lucky, perhaps a Happily Ever After:
(Which only leads to the start of a whole other story…)
So you see, I’m not that far off from where I started.
As I told my friend, I’m not dead yet. There is still plenty of writing left in me.
And in the meantime, praise God, I have plenty of pictures to take and stories to tell via the camera lens too.