Monday, April 4, 2011

Making It

This weekend someone asked me what I did for a living. I cannot even tell you how satisfactory it was to say, “I’m a writer.”
I’ve written about this phenomenon before, but at that point being a writer wasn’t something that brought me even a little bit of money. While I have to admit that I am still not fully able to support myself on my writing, it is now without a doubt the number one thing that I pour my energy into in exchange for money.
This may be confusing to some – after all, I quit my job in Bellevue more than three years ago, and since then I’ve mainly been working on my writing – right? Yes, but until this point I was always either living off my savings or working other jobs to supplement my writing and support this crazy idea I had to write for a living. As of this month, however, I have had to put away or quit all those other attempts to supplement my income because I am getting so busy that I simply don’t have the time to mess around working for someone else to make my money. That’s right: I’m at a terrifying point in my life where I have to invest all my time in making money without having any solid proof that I will make it.
Yes, of course this is petrifying. No, I haven’t been sleeping like a baby at the thought. Yes, this means that my life is perhaps more unsteady than it’s ever been before. At the same time, however, it’s also the only step I can take that is in the right direction – if I don’t give myself the room to succeed, there’s no way I will.
This has lead me to wish sometimes that there was some magic genie that would tell me that I will make it, but then I think, “What exactly is making it anyway?”
Maybe making it is when you decide that you make enough money to not have to worry anymore, but then again, most people I know worry about money regardless of how much they have. Perhaps making it is when you get to do whatever it is you want, regardless of the income, but if that’s the case, then I’ve made it already, even if I’m not quite financially solvent yet.
When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me a card with a poem on it called “Success,” attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to Ralph Waldo Emerson. (You can read the poem if you click on the name of the poem; most people have heard it at some point in their lives.) Based on this and my continuing effort in trying to define “making it” for me, I have reached a conclusion: I have made it. Despite the fact that I don’t yet make enough money doing it, and that I have no idea if I will ever make enough money doing it, I have decided that I have made it for many reasons. I get to spend every day working toward my own success: if there’s a step back it’s mine, but all the step forwards are mine too.
I get to cook delicious meals again and again to perfect them for my cookbook. It’s an important part of my job, and one I truly enjoy. I make money because I do this. How awesome is that?
And the best reason, in case you forgot? I get to call myself a writer and know that it’s true.
Having decided that I’ve already made it, I’m now letting myself off the hook. There is no failure if the experiences come with life-changing lessons. My life has changed and I can let go of the idea of making it because I already have. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying, but I am going to stop worrying about reaching a goal that I haven’t even really defined. Even if the world blew up tomorrow and I never sold another book with my name on it, I still get to apply these experiences and their rewards to the rest of my life. If that’s not “making it,” I don’t know what is.

Love and made it kisses