One shelf in my apartment is dedicated solely to the creative spirit. It contains writing prompts, a thesaurus and a book of baby names. Pretty much the basic tools needed to write a novel. And at the far end is my thesis from grad school, a collection of short stories that can stand alone but combined tell a larger story of one particular character. That thesis feels like a hard stop. A period at the end of a long winded sentence. The death of my writing career, if you can even call that piece of my life a career.
For the longest time, I identified as a blogger. With my MFA, I segued to a full-blown writer. Such a title felt warranted as I built a portfolio of published work. These days I don't feel like I'm much of either. Instead, I'm a career woman with a prestigious job, a company car and a pension. Just re-reading that soulless sentence sucks the air out of my lungs.
This evening I attended a talk with Jennifer Weiner, an author that most women in the 90s could personally relate to. She was the every-woman. Plus she was funny and engaging and flawed. I haven't read any of her more recent releases but was incredibly amused by her talk. At the end, members of the audience were permitted to ask questions.
"We have so much in common," this meek skinny girl said while standing in front of the microphone. "I have a story inside me but have writer's block. How do you work through that?"
I cringed at her question. I turned my attention back to Jennifer Weiner and cautiously awaited her response.
"You sit in a chair and write. You can't wait for inspiration."
That's the answer of a writer. It's exactly the answer I would have given. Except unlike the audience member who asked it, the woman who sheepishly returned to her seat with defeat plastered across her face, I felt inspired by those words.
When I got home, I tossed my keys on the dining room table and kicked off my shoes. I poured a glass of ice water and plucked a craft book off my shelf. I'm still not ready to finish my novel. There are too many limitations to the final steps of that project. But maybe I'm ready to finally tackle that screenplay I've been tossing around in my crazy head for a year and a half. It's a story I adore and believe others would too.
At the very least, I know I'm ready to get back to being a writer.