Four years ago, when I was single, I decided once and for all to prove that online dating would never work, that I'd never find a man I could love and trust. It did not appear possible to find an honest, good-quality guy that way. No way. I'd tried it before, played at it and went through the motions. I was sadly disappointed. So, I posted a description of myself that was absolutely the truth, no embellishments, no pretending. I didn't try to say things that I thought someone would want to hear, and thus, like me better for it. It was a throwdown.
I described exactly what I wanted in a man: He had to be intelligent, love traveling, reading, good food, conversation, reading, movies, good music, and reading. He would absolutely not smoke, might drink a bit now and then, and had to be honorable and faithful. Good looking would be a plus. He had to be a professional, had to be artistic and creative, and I think I said he had to like reading. I said that already? It was really, really important. I thought that was quite a list and nearly impossible to find. Hah! Take that online dating! The perfect man was definitely not out there, this would prove it so I could get on with my life and put the kabosh on the concept, at least for me.
It was odd, but when my demands were stated emphatically, damn! I got choices galore! So, I picked one. Turns out he fits the bill entirely. He reads circles around me, and I read a lot. He has traveled all over everywhere, talks like there's no tomorrow, revels in the mysterious and philosophical aspects of discovery, no matter what kind. He's quite a guy. He took me to Paris to propose to me and brings me roses all the time. He's a character in a chick flick come to life, with a sense of humor as big as my house. I had been very clear, decided exactly what I wanted and would not take less than that. Be careful what you ask for; you might get it.
So now my point is: What are you asking for as a writer?
I've just finished reading a few recent blogs here on RedRoom. Brilliant, talented, sensitive and wise writers are often talking about how difficult it is to get published, to be noticed as an author, to gain legitimacy and an audience wider than their own family circle. Other kinds of creative people including musicians and artists say the exact same thing. My hat is whisked off quickly to someone who has been in the trenches, whacking away at their keyboard or guitar or easel for decades with only modest success. Where is the fairness for you, writer in the dark, when a formulaic hack repeatedly sells millions of copies of their trash novels and you still struggle?
Writers, musicians and artists who are just starting out often give away their work just to get it into the hands and minds of potential fans "out there." It's like we feel we have to grovel to get our foot in the door. But, I ask you, if someone stood at your door groveling and begging, would you let them in?
What if I had only asked that a man have a pulse and no criminal record? I needed to be fine with my own independence and sense of who I was. And, I had to very clearly state what I was about. I had set the bar very high, so that any man that wanted to date me would have to work to get over it; he was going to have to pole vault over it. My husband now says he respects me far more for having taken that approach.
Seems like half the battle of becoming known as a creative person of any sort is to have quite a lot of moxie. I know the nature of the (writing) beast is that we are introspective, quiet, solitary, chaos-phobic people who love literature and books and writing. We have a talent, a gift, and the world needs us far more than they know. I think editors depend on us not asking for much, begging to be published. "Sure we love your piece. We don't pay, but we'll publish it." They don't pay for good writing because they know they don't have to. Unfortunately, too much of what wonderfully nice, creative, artistic people do is throw-away work. The world gets our blood, sweat and tears for nearly free, while our confidence sinks.
What is the value we place on ourselves? What are we worth in the world? RedRoom challenged us to write about our favorite children's books this week. Certainly, the value of what my favorite authors wrote is priceless to me. Thank God they had a clear vision of what they wanted to say and did so. I'd be so lost if they hadn't.
As you sit there in your favorite fuzzy pajamas and the clock ticking on the wall, what do you really, really want as a writer?
Ask for it, mean it, state it clearly, and the universe will give it to you in spades.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way