What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?
I always wanted to be a mother.
And then I wanted to be a writer.
I really wanted to be a writer. My first story was 40 pages typed size 12 Arial. A historical fiction “novel” in 5th grade. Something about Mary, literally.
When my grades took a nose dive in junior year of high school for lack of interest and studying, English held steady. Instead of summer jobs that year I went to Wellesley to take English classes. My favorite class and the only one I remember from college was a 12 person semester long short story workshop. My internships were for magazines - most memorably at Harper’s Bazaar when a stylist threw a shoe in the fashion closet.
But my college boyfriend got a job in Boston and there were jobs in advertising and publishing so I got a job at a social media agency which felt close to writing. Seven years later I went to business school and brand was my thing so that’s what I went to do after. It came naturally and became my language and until Bodie and until Mother Untitled I didn’t consider anything else.
But the other day someone asked me what I did. I said I was staying home with my kids right now. My friend introduced me as a writer. I literally laughed out loud. Everyone moved on.
What’s quite amazing is this thing - this place that I care so deeply and put out there because I just wanted to talk about it as a parent and a woman actually brings me to the thing I always wanted to do.
What a gift. And what a shame if I waste it. So I started googling, “how do you become a writer?” Truly.
It feels ridiculous - I mean I had a career in brand and digital. I’ve built my own little corner of the internet of brands where I write every day. One would think I could figure this out.
But I don’t know the process of pitching my essays beyond my circle. I don’t know who the right person is to reach out to or if you sell them on yourself, the idea or deliver a full post. I don’t know how many rounds of editing you need before. Or if or how you change your voice writing for people besides yourself.
I think I started with googling because it was discreet. Asking anyone in my network for advice or guidance would mean admitting I’m a novice again. It’s vulnerable in a very different way than admitting low points or insecurities. It’s saying out loud a wish or even a belief in your capacity and asking for someone else to believe in you too.
So here are the three things I’m doing to keep building on this self-discovery:
Repeating it - I started by saying it out loud to my family. That this is something I enjoy doing and want to keep doing and get better at. Then I started saying it when people asked what I’m working on.
Asking for help - I made a short list of women I admire in this particular category of creativity and career. Some are women who dabbling in writing and doing a great job at it, some have written professionally for 20 years and others are just smart and strategic and have good insight. Women really are wonderful. Everyone suggested times to catch up and gave me their candid perspective on what’s working for me, where I could grow and what next steps could be. Everyone sent follow ups.
Learning - I considered courses, online or live to finesse skills like interviews or journalistic writing. That’s not realistic for me right now. Also I know my style of learning and I tend to better through practice. So I challenged myself to read three articles in three different publications daily. Not necessarily publications I naturally gravitate to but ones that I could learn from in regard to style, structure and subject. This feels accessible and like something that serves me no matter where this goes.
All of this is to say, If you’re making room for motherhood in your career now it could lead you somewhere really special. The dots always connect backward.
So, what did you want to be when you grew up? Have you revisited any previous interests in motherhood?