Be careful what you wish for, you just might end up with… a column?
After years of grandiose aspirations, “the moment I have dreamed of” has actually arrived: I have been hired to write a first-person, bi-weekly column. But wait…could this really be what I’d hoped for?
My writing “career” has undergone many different phases, each affording me varying degrees of anonymity. I have written for a few parenting magazines and often my work didn’t include a by-line. In other words, I sat in front of my computer, a cheque arrived in the mail, and I endured minimal public awareness or scrutiny of what I wrote and how I wrote it! How could I possibly wish for anything more?
I have always preferred first-person writing, but had difficulty coming up with topics that appealed to a wide range of people. But one day, along with just about everything else in my life, all that changed…I became a parent. Then, try as I might to contain the stories about my kids’ antics, and my foibles in dealing with them, the stories exploded! Suddenly, I had a veritable gold mine of ideas. Life with kids, I realized, was similar to an on-going comedy routine: often hilariously funny, but sometimes flopping around like a fish out of water, desperately trying to reach a familiar place in order to survive. I began to “tickety-type” away, which is how my husband refers to the focused and productive (versus unfocussed and unproductive, which thankfully, he hasn’t named yet) clatter of the keyboard, and soon began to sell some of my first-person stories and other research-based articles.
Through the years, only a select few knew about my ambition to write. My dog and loyal companion Keshia, was one such confidante, and together, she and I would anticipate and weather each rejection letter. Gradually and with trepidation, I began to feel comfortable enough to mention free-lance writing among my interests and as a modest source of income. I could generally predict two types of reactions to this disclosure: a blank stare, or more commonly, a bemused, yet kindly look similar to that given a five-year-old professing his or her love for Santa Claus.
While I considered, and was being considered for this column, questions about whether or not I really wanted it plagued me: What if I embarrass my kids? What if I embarrass myself or my husband? What if I offend somebody? What if I’m misunderstood? What if I run out of material? I was a text book case of fear of failure, fear of success. What if I don’t get it… but (gasp) what if I do get it?
Then, logical thought prevailed and I realized this was an opportunity I could not pass up. At my “real job” I write a variety of marketing and communication materials, which I really enjoy, but this column will give me the chance to write about what amuses me most – my family and, life in general. There is also an undeniable benefit for my kids. Ten year old Nick, who dreams of NHL hockey fame, and seven year old Elena, who regularly pretends to lead a glamorous life in the performing arts are excited to regularly see their names in the newspaper. My husband, Callum initially found humour in the likelihood that some of our family’s eccentricities might be inadvertently revealed, (With a 10 and a seven year old, there are no secrets, only eccentricities) but quickly realized what that might mean to him. He now asks cautiously, and somewhat regularly, “That’s not going to show up in your column, is it?” Not sure, Honey, I guess you’ll have to read it and find out!