Part of my identity crisis in the past five years is because I don’t feel like a writer. I lost connection with the person I was, editor of the local newspaper, writer of stories about people, revealer of truth.
I now identify myself with jobs I work to pay the bills, to provide for my family, to live. I am a cashier, a receptionist, a direct-sales consultant. I convinced myself I couldn’t write, even though I was identified for 25 years as a writer.
I quit writing. I jumped headlong into a lake of denial with scanty swimming skills and no foothold. I just figured I couldn’t write, that I wasn’t any good, because I applied for more than four dozen writing and editing jobs without a single interview.
I turned to fiction and tried to reinvent my writing self. I wrote two novels and about half of two more.
I spent a small fortune going to graduate school and getting two master’s degrees. Through my graduate work, I published a nonfiction book about preteen purity. I never felt the accomplishment I should from that feat.
I spent about six months writing tech articles for the popular website eHow. Unfortunately, the well of writing opportunities with the source company ran dry, and I moved on to seek other writing opportunities that never materialized. Perhaps that was when my identity crashed.
I watch my sons finding their places in the world, and I realize the cyclical nature of our lives. I delved headlong in my journalism career when I was in college. I didn’t question, I did. I never had a moment’s doubt that journalism was right for me or the direction I should take. Now, at 46, I am seeking clarity and my place in the creative world.
With a recent employment shortfall, I’ve wondered why. Why didn’t I get the job if it came looking for me? What’s the purpose? What am I supposed to learn?
As part of the application process, I prepared writing clips, a task I had avoided for a long time. I missed that life, and it was heartbreaking to review it.
But within that review process, I found the reason. I remembered that I could write. That I am a writer. That, even though I have become content with my current circumstances, I want to write again as a profession. I learned that I want to pick up my writing career where it left off five years ago.
I relived experiences and interviews. I embraced the relationships I had built. I remembered all the people in different stages of their lives who shared the newsroom with me: Mary and Lisa and PJ and Judy and Monika and Jevne and Marty and Nick and Jon and Megan. And, of course, Rodney. I remembered how one specific writer, Jon, made me strive to be a better writer… and a better person. I recall how Judy and Monika always worked hard and had my back, taking on any task I gave them.
I remembered the good and the bad. I remembered many of the people I sat down and talked with, the ones who trusted me with their stories. I realized it wasn’t about the awards won, but the stories told.
I realized this morning how deep my healing had reached. I picked up the local newspaper, the same one I had once led, and I looked at it with new eyes. I didn’t feel animosity. I didn’t look at it and pick out problems.
Good or bad, I was part of that newspaper’s history. I led the editorial team to the best of my ability and I served the community with as much respect and responsibility I could muster.
It’s a new, different era in that newspaper’s legacy, and that’s OK. The new leader is learning, just like I did. In the end, she will do fine. She is making her place and doing her best.
I finally realize that.