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As I write this, my husband is insisting on calling our hypothetical baby boy “Zook”. I find this noteworthy not because I would ever allow that to happen, but because I find myself talking about baby names at all with my husband in an apartment in Englewood, Colorado. Three years ago, I was living in my parents’ condo in Boston, Massachusetts. I was unmarried. Babies were still ghoulish wiggly things to be regarded with one part curiosity and three parts trepidation. Within those three years, I got married, saw two interstate moves, had two career changes, and started talking about babies.
Probably the most unthinkable of these changes happened on May 18th, 2015. I turned 30. I attribute the sheer fact that I was able to survive turning 30 with anything less than tears to all of the madness of the past few years. Nothing stops you from thinking too much about your life like not being able to keep up with it. However, I did have time to glance over the pile of refuse that is my computer’s desktop and see any number of unfinished stories and aborted outlines.
I remembered wanting to be a writer. I still walked around, talking like it was something that was destined to eventually happen. I was just waiting for the right moment, the perfect confluence of time and happiness. I would be exactly the right weight. I’d be working precisely the right job. My hair would be perfectly colored and arranged. My skinny jeans would fit, my glasses wouldn’t wiggle, and my apartment would be immaculate. I would tuck my hair behind my ears and hover over a typewriter like Joan Didion, dreaming up the perfect way to capture sauerkraut. I would be the soul of a writer and my novel would just flow effortlessly.
When I turned 30, I realized that writing isn’t something that happens to you. It’s not a gift the universe gives you because you got the formula right. Nobody can make you a writer; you make yourself one. And you don’t do that by looking the part and nursing the occasional burst of inspiration. You do it by writing…a lot. It is anything but effortless.
Today, I wrote about 12,000 words. I dragged my laptop around my apartment, soaking in the tub, standing in the kitchen, lying on the floor, sprawling on the balcony, walking on a treadmill, and yes, sitting at a desk like a normal person. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and when the day was over, I sat down and wrote some more. Hell, I’m writing now. With all of the recent changes, it’s nice to be reminded of one of the few constants I’ve had in my life: I love to write.
So now, thinking back over 12,000 words and counting, I’m surrounded by unpacked boxes and unfolded clothes. I’m sitting in a ratty red bathrobe and eating cheerios out of a plastic wine glass. My cats have been slowly deconstructing an origami ball, scattering its entrails across my carpet. And I’m a writer. And it’s glorious.