The Tortured, Tormented yet Tantalizing Tale of How I Became a Writer Written by Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes
Today we welcome a new columnist, Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes who is stopping by to chat with us today about “The Tortured, Tormented yet Tantalizing Tale of How I Became a Writer.” Enjoy!
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Dr. Maya Angelou
My foray into the world of professional scribe was an accident. I never dreamt of becoming the author of the great American novel. I didn’t feel a yearning. I loved reading and I was content to build my personal library of works in the genres I most enjoy: biography, fiction, history, and politics. I was doing quite well broadening my horizons and engaging my imagination through the literary offerings of others.
A horrible, terrible, awful job upended my world and changed my life. Let me take a moment to put the experience in perspective: I found myself struggling to survive in a hostile work environment which was not conducive to productivity. I had an office, a desk, chair, phone, computer, and a fancy title but I was hindered at every turn by bitter political warfare and breathtaking incompetence.
I told myself I needed to work. My stomach ached all the time and I fell into a depression every Sunday night. I never knew what a day would bring – but I had to have this j-o-b. I began writing short stories to ease my sense of isolation and help me make it through each day. I recall experiencing a profound sense of exhilaration. You could say I was falling in love.
Meanwhile, I frequently clashed with my supervisor and ended up on paid administrative leave. I was so emotionally overwrought I couldn’t appreciate the gift I’d just been handed. I continued writing stories and became totally enamored. The characters who manifested delighted me and I was hooked.
While I was out on leave, I was asked to write a proposal. On the heels of this request came a second one and then a third. I happily got to work creating documents. I was pleasantly surprised at the reception I received. I didn’t think of myself as having a gift. I was thinking paycheck.
My leave was extended and the fog was beginning to lift. More opportunities to do freelance writing were materializing. I kept pounding the pavement – the allure of a steady paycheck hadn’t completely lost its appeal. I had a couple of promising interviews and actually wanted one of the positions. After my third interview – yep –I was suddenly aware it wasn’t going to be mine. I was moving in another direction.
My husband pointed out the potential conflict I faced: I still had a steady paycheck coming in, even if I was banned from the office. “You need to make a decision,” he urged. We formed a business and I ordered business cards. The last step was a leap of faith: letting go of my steady paycheck. The current arrangement wouldn’t last indefinitely.
I submitted a carefully worded letter of resignation. To my utter surprise I received a formal response advising me I could not quit because my contract hadn’t been renewed. My career as a freelance writer was off and running, right? Wrong. I hadn’t taken time to figure out what I wanted to do or how or even why. I hadn’t gotten around to owning, affirming or acknowledging a desire to write.
I certainly enjoyed it and I was beginning to appreciate my abilities but this knowledge didn’t rise to the level of passion or an avid pursuit. I was still hung up on the steady paycheck. A decade passed before I published my collection of original short stories. I tried writing a business plan. The effort shook me to my core and I walked away from it for two years! I had less trouble taking my daughter to school for her first day of Kindergarten.
Letting go of my writing was so much more complicated – until I came to terms with my calling and accepted writing as my passion. I live to write, however I traversed a circuitous path, filled with torment, to reach this understanding. It took twelve years to become comfortable with who and what I am. I proudly own and acknowledge my gifts and talents. I am a writer.
When doubt clouds the horizon success is fleeting and comfort non-existent. Fear of accomplishing my goals and achieving my dreams took me on an incredible journey of self-discovery. I am a writer and, if I say so myself, I’m a darned good one. Yet it took me almost forever to find out.
© August 2014 by Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Theresa Bennett-Wilkes, owner of Holly Tree Publications, LLC, is a freelance writer, published and self-published author, consultant, and writing instructor. She has more than 150 published feature articles and blog posts under her byline. Visit her on the web at: www.alwaystheresa.com.