What It's Like To Be
What It's Like To Be

Earning My Writer's Stripes

by Denise Hedley about a year ago in advice

Living the Dream

Earning My Writer's Stripes
Courtesy of Pixabay

It isn't what I thought it would be. It is so much more.

I wrote proposals for 20 years. Automatically—amost robotically. By the time I stopped, I could practically write one in my sleep.

I now realize that I wasn't really a writer even though my business cards claimed I was.

For as long as I can remember, I have written something pretty regularly, even if it was just journal entries, until the inception of my ill-conceived marriage to a narcissist who convinced me I didn't know what I was doing.

Turns out, I actually did. There really was a writer inside. She just hadn't come close to earning her stripes yet.

I can thank my 20 years of being a corporate automaton for teaching me how to stay organized when it comes to versions, formatting, and other mundane things. I now feel like it was a wasted 20 years.

It took a fall down a flight of stairs that left me with a disability. It took fleeing my 11-year nightmare called a marriage. It took reuniting with my muse.

I must admit it was quite the circuitous route.

As painful as that route was at times, the result of it is nothing short of fabulous.

I had not realized that I had stopped writing until I started again. I had felt like my soul was dying for a while at that point. Now I know why.

It was.

I felt like my life was essentially over. Just me and the cat, stagnating.

It was a turning point.

I thought I would be satisfied with simply existing.

I wasn't.

Turns out, I need to be creating. I need to be creating whether it is for myself or for someone else.

It actually took making too little money working for a content mill that allowed me to turn the corner.

I still make too little money working for that same content mill, but now, I reward myself by writing for myself as well, and I find myself fulfilled.

I slowly see the fruits of my labor. I slowly see that I am developing an audience whether it is through my chronic pain blog or through articles written gratis for important projects such as the National Pain Foundation. Those are satisfying by themselves, but it turns out they weren't quite enough.

I discovered Vocal Media. I discovered Medium. I dipped my toes in the waters of paradise, and I was a total goner.

I was completely hooked—addicted to writing, the greatest drug on the planet, and it is legal!

What I had found myself unable to do for all those years is now something I can't stop doing.

I never imagined a life where when I would lay down to attempt to sleep at night, my brain would go into overdrive and I would find myself getting back up to get my thoughts down on paper and before I knew it, the sun was coming up and the cat was tugging on my pant leg to let me know that he hears the birdies.

The turning point was the first time I submitted something worthwhile. I will never forget the feeling of seeing that e-mail telling me that my article had been accepted.

It made me catch my breath. I had never felt true pride and satisfaction until that very moment.

I had just earned my first writer's stripes.

It was only the beginning.

I sleep little now. I write constantly. Besides content mill stuff, I actually have novels in the works. I have a dozen stories started that I add to regularly.

Some of the things I have written have led to requests for more. I still have to fulfill some of them, but they are there. People are starting to listen.

A large portion of my articles are activism related because there are some issues out there that need voices loaned to them. This isn't a bad thing, quite rewarding actually.

But it is these—the ones that are true—the ones where I can just lose myself in putting my voice to my feelings. The ones where I make a new playlist, pop on the headphones and lose myself just letting words flow through me.

To you, the average reader, this might not look like much.

To me, it is 50-some years in the making. It is rebirth. It is a new life. It is me doing something that I love more than I ever realized I would.

And when I finish one, I sit back and smile. I tend to smile a lot these days.

Denise Hedley
Denise Hedley
Read next: Why Denny's Is the Perfect Starter Job for a Cook
Denise Hedley

Writer, Blogger, Chronic Pain Warrior, Quora contributor, and Senior Member of the Human Race. Fights Fibromyalgia, SLE, Osteoarthritis, RSD/CRPS. Blogs at livinglifewithfibromyalgiatoday.wordpress.com or follow her @GMSnowshoe on Twitter

See all posts by Denise Hedley