Today I told a friend I have not seen in a while that I want to be a writer. The words flew out in excitement and instantly I felt naked. Not the good naked. My friend is an avid reader, more avid than me. He wanted to be supportive, but I read his thoughts behind his eyes.
When I left my ‘career’ on Wall Street to become a jewelry designer, my world divided into camps. There was a camp who was skeptical. They thought it was a good hobby on the side, not a career. A career is something practical, they said. Those people questioned me about my training and reminded me that I had none as a designer. My first necklaces were sloppy as hell, but I still sold them. To me, they looked beautiful but this camp made sure to point out all of my mistakes.
The second camp was the calm supporters. These were people who were supported all their lives by others. These people’s dreams were regarded, so in their lives they learned to regard all dreams.
The third camp was the secret dreamers. They came out of the closet one by one, revealing to me as their consort their private fantasies. One of these dreamers was my 19-year-old cousin on his death-bed. He got cancer in college, where he was studying computers and engineering. He was the type who was found in front of a computer most of his childhood, so everyone assumed he would follow that practical path. Upon hearing from his parents that Olia quit her good Wall St. job that made a lot of money to make jewelry, he opened up to me.
This was six years ago. He died few months after that short phone conversation. I never read his writing, I wish he blogged. My reaction was most supportive. I did my spiel about following your dreams. Only you know what you need, no one else knows your potential. I believe it too. I went on and on, telling him the things that he did not hear his parents say. Things about leaping and nets appearing. But a writer… That stumped even me, the optimist. Inside, I feared for him, not because he was dying of cancer but because I thought become a jewelry designer is one thing, becoming a writer, that is something else.
He died even before having the elusive writer’s block.
When he said I want to be a writer six years ago, it sounded to me like someone saying I want to go to Mars. Yes, it is possible, but highly unlikely. On the brink of changing careers, I was reading ‘the Artist Way’ by Julia Cameron. It was my bible. The author spoke of not telling people about your dreams while it is in a preliminary stages because their reactions will discourage you. There was an exercise where I drew a circle and put in it only the people who I would tell. These people are in the supporter/dreamer camps. The others would be outside of that circle until my dreams hatched.
I did not think that it was possible for him to die. He was too young and related. You can do it at any age but you have a gift of youth. You do not need to listen to that critical voice inside your head, if everyone listened to that voice, there would be no musicians, no artists, no writers. I had a lot of positive reinforcements. I was a voice from inside that circle. Those were the voices who helped me when I needed help. I wanted to be that for him or anyone with a secret dream.
I have been breaking that rule. I have been telling people that I want to be a writer. I see them laughing at me inside and it hurts. You were right, Julia. I need to draw a new circle.