Last week, my therapist complimented me on my writing, then asked me, “Do you want to write a novel? What is it, exactly, that you want to do?”
“You know, it’s funny,” I told her. “When I was a kid – through high school, maybe a little into college – I used to think I was going to be a famous writer. But then at some point, I realized that making money by writing was very unlikely. It’s such a gamble. And it would be stressful: I’d worry about not having anything to write about; I’d worry about it not being any good; I’d devote a ton of my time to it, trying to get published or find an agent, and likely be met with rejection. And therefore no money. And then I wouldn’t enjoy it any more.”
“As far as writing is concerned,” I went on, “I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I’m writing. It’s affecting people, eliciting a response in them; I’m making connections. I don’t need to get money for it, when I can get money for my work at the grocery store, and keep writing as something I enjoy. And then I kinda figure, maybe it’ll just fall into my lap one day. Maybe I’ll make a connection or someone will read something I’ve written and want to help me along the path to making it a career. And if not, I’m happy with what I’m doing right now.”
“Wow,” she said. “That’s a really great way of looking at it. You had all these expectations, and then, once you realized that they wouldn’t be easily met, or would be met at a cost, you dropped them and decided to just go with it. Maybe you could try applying the same line of thinking to your loss and your grief and your healing: trust that eventually, everything will just fall into place?”
She paused, smiling a little as though she already knew how I was going to respond. Remember, I’d just been blind-sided by the realization that there isn’t a magic formula for my healing.
“No,” I said. “I don’t like that idea.”
She laughed, and told me, again, how much she loves my spontaneity and honesty. She always seems to be so charmed by me, so involved – as though she’s the one who’s supposed to be having revelations in there. And I like that about her, that she shows her emotions and her human-ness too. It’s way better than a poker face and a notepad.
* * *
I went in to work the other day, and as I passed by the girl who’d asked for a love story, she gasped and clasped her hands together.
“Marie! Come over here!” she said. Her face was visibly lit, but this isn’t out of the ordinary for her; she’s usually passionate and excitable.
I walked into the kitchen, and she gave me a hug.
“I started reading your blog. It’s wonderful. I’m only in August, but it totally kept me from my homework. I kept telling my friend, ‘You have to read this part, you have to read this part!’ And she was like, ‘Ok, but we’re supposed to be studying.'”
“Oh. Thanks,” I said, a little embarrassed. Another one of our coworkers was staring at us, wondering what we were talking about. I could feel myself blushing.
“And I’m so sorry,” she added.
“Thank you. I’m sorry if it’s not exactly a love story…”
“What are you talking about?! It’s a beautiful love story!”
And then all I could think was how I’d get to tell Doug I told him so. But then later, I realized that this was the point I’d tried to convey to my therapist with regards to my writing “career”: if it’s affecting people, if it’s eliciting a response in them, if I’m making connections… I am happy just where I am.