Friday, November 28, 2008

What did you dream of becoming as a child?

As a middle class kid growing up in suburbia, I dreamed of becoming an architecht, building struts of air and pockets of intimacy out of steel, wood, glass, and concrete. I also dreamed of becoming a writer, spinning another kind of structure out of magical words. Words are magic. They can inflame the imagination with fear or hope; they build us whole new worlds in our minds. I never became an architecht. But I do love to write.

In a way, that joy of building castles in the air is still with me. I'm a Manager in a busy government office with a large complement of staff and a big budget. My day is filled with meetings, decisions, approvals, and people, people, people. I am an acknowledged expert in my field and people pay attention to what I have to say. When I listen to a new plan or policy, I build a structure in my mind on what it will look like. Are there flaws or obstacles that will hinder us? How can we fix it?

The most fascinating structures of all for me, these days, is complex group interactions. How do we coax a group of people in to a new way of doing things? Can we help them overcome their own barriers? How do we get the best out of our people?

When I started out, I started at the bottom as a records clerk. This job found me when I was very low, and I worked my way up. How did I end up at the bottom? I became pregnant as a teen. The father, who I stayed with for three long years, was abusive. He rarely worked. We lived in a dirty hovel. When I left him, I was a shattered human being. But I was also a young mother of two small children. I did not have the luxury to give up. I had two futures in my hands. So I went to work. And learned and grew along the way with my children.

My children grounded me. No longer a passive dreamer, I went out and built a future for us. I gained some callouses and some smarts along the way. I was no longer a flat and plastic suburbia child. I had depth of character and new insights on how people are; both the dark and the bright. I chose to shine. So, ironically, my checquered past gave me the decent foundation to become a decent writer.

I've been published - once - a cute little anecdote about my son for a magazine. But most of the time my work has been turned down by publishers.

I've learned that rejection is part and parcel of the writer's trade. I've also learned that writing is a higly solitary activity that comes with rare praise. But the creating, if I remember that. The joy of building my castles in the air, that is mine to enjoy and share.