Thursday, June 28, 2012

Professional Pants

Express clothing store sells a style of dress pants called Editor Pants. Many years ago, I wanted a pair just because of what they were called. Unfortunately, they are made for people with hips. My hips only came in after I had two children. And barely.

I also remember once trying to pick out a new set of eye glasses according to how professional they would make me seem. Jeff and I were still dating. I turned and asked him if the sample set on my face made me look like a writer. My encouraging man smiled and said, “Of course.”

I had no confidence in my abilities as a writer. I scribbled in journals but I hid behind my glasses, too afraid to let anyone see my writing. I kept my voice from the world and tried to at least look the part. But that didn’t get me too far.

Deep down I knew I possessed a gift that I wasn’t using. I needed to produce something.

So, little by little I learned the craft of writing by reading about it. I took some classes and chased down small writing projects. After several years, I ended up with a job as an editor.

Still, I spent most days feeling like a fraud. I thought that I didn’t deserve the title after my name when I banged my head against the desk and only churned out 300 words before it was time to go home. I dashed around drinking way too much coffee and wondering if the strings of letters on the screen made any sense to anyone other than me.

What is this gift I thought I had and why couldn’t I just fit into those special pants? That would have been much easier.

Last December, I finished a large writing project. As I fumbled toward my last keystroke, I realized that I am a writer. That fact didn’t come because of what I had accomplished on paper or screen nor did it come because of what I was wearing that day. (I think it was the same pair of sweatpants I had been wearing for three days. Perseverance at all costs, people!)

I had learned who I am in the process of the writing and creating. That process is not linear, nor can it be explained to you in a book. It’s the attitude of the one in the pants. The way you live your life. It’s in the showing up and the flipping out and the victorious, slightly-queasy feeling when you hit the “publish” button on a blog.

After several months of freelancing, I’m applying for fulltime jobs again. Some days I still worry I’m a fraud. I read job descriptions and wonder if the hiring managers will look at my resume and laugh. I worry that they are the ones choosing if I’m a professional or not.

Tonight, as I was searching for jobs, I went back to the Hallmark site. I read through some of their staff bios. They asked the individuals about their creative process.

The workers gave answers like drinking caffeine, reading blogs, and freaking out before churning out something brilliant at the last minute. Huh. That sounds exactly like me!

Best part about the bios? The pictures. Almost all of them were wearing jeans.

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