Can’t blame me for trying.

I just picked up Roy Blount Jr.’s Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans, the newest book in the Crown Journey’s series. I had been anticipating this release for a year or more — ever since I knew he was writing it — for a few reasons. More than just wanting to read it (and loving New Orleans, I wanted to read it), I wanted to compare myself to Blount. I wanted to see how my written account of our honeymoon stacked up to an accomplished author — someone who actually gets paid to do what I enjoy doing for nothing.

Yes, the cat’s out of the bag. The real reason behind starting this blog is to get my required “writing for the day” time, just as Anne Lamott told me to do in Bird by Bird, her “how-to” guide on becoming a writer. This is my outlet for any musings I currently have on my mind, and I have to make an effort to write something every day. If not, then I’m not doing enough to make any of my dreams come true.

For those who know me well, they know that received a degree in biology education, worked as a substitute teacher part time (and applied/interviewed/got turned down for teaching positions full time), and within two years realized that I never really fit well in the profession I had chosen. I do still believe in the importance of education, and would probably have been content with teaching for a few more years, but I just don’t have the type of personality to be beaten down by students, faculty, and the grind and pressure involved with teaching.

Therefore, I became lower management at a non-profit call center.

This is not where I’ll stop. This is just a means of getting comfortable while I strive to become what I really want to be — a writer, a journalist, an author. And that’s where this practice comes in. I never intend to be the next Umberto Eco — I can’t write flowing lovely prose that brings the young maidens to tears and leaves non-scholarly people wondering. But I can learn to write well. And with that, hopefully, I can learn to trust my talent, and appreciate that I’m not expected to be perfect in order to enjoy writing. Nobody can be Umberto Eco. With a name like that, who would want to?

Well, from what I’ve read of Blount’s book, I’ve got a long way to go. I describe what we do, what we saw, and the people we met. He describes all this as well, but he also captures the feeling of the Big Easy — the heat and the sweat, the debauchery and the sin, the craziness and the coziness — and he makes the reader feel as if, yes, there you are, right in the heart of New Orleans, sipping on your own Mint Julep, thinking about the city and it’s history. It’s all very humbling.

And, while I know it’s healthy to be humbled, to have something to look up to, I still feel unqualified, as if I’m required to take four years of school in order to truly become a “writer,” just like I needed four years of school to officially become a “teacher.” This is what I need to learn more than anything – to get it through my head that there’s no need for a diploma, or a published work, for me to think of myself as a writer.

That’s hard for me to do. I’m a creature of science – I need the facts and theories to be written out and followed, with no grey area to be considered for discussion.

I will soon post my version of New Orleans, as soon as I can figure out how to put files on this site, for everyone to read, critique, enjoy (or skim, if you like).

And until then, I’ll still be trying to figure out what it takes to be a writer.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 24th, 2005