by Beth Bartlett
Oh yeah, it’s 1997 over there, Ryan Gosling’s probably playing a Little League game right now and you have no idea what I’m talking about. Quit looking at me like I’m crazy. Because I’m you.
Right now, you have a decent job that doesn’t involve a grease-resistant uniform or any knowledge of fryer maintenance. It does, however, require a suitable amount of antacids, especially after committee meeting days. How would you feel if I told you that in a few short years, you’re going to go after your dream of being a full-time writer?
I thought you’d like that. You’re all bouncy and shiny and happy and innocent, and I love that about you. I would tell you that in less than a year, you will get your heart stomped on by a gorilla in golf shoes, but-hey, come out from under that desk-I won’t tell you that. I also want to tell you to take more chances, jump off more cliffs, but that could change everything. Butterflies die, the universe changes and I could end up not even being here to tell you all this.
So, in self-preservation, I’m telling you to go forth. Forgive the gorilla, but take away his shoes. You can also make him walk on sharp gravel if you want. The lessons reality will hand you on a tennis racket swiftly moving toward your head will keep you sharp, make you a little cynical (okay, a lot) and introduce you to drinking: three ingredients needed to be a freelance writer. Within three years, you will wake up one morning and realize that the overwhelming dread of another 9-to-5 day does not trump the joy of writing. You will say “Pfft!” to the idea of a safety net and do a full dogpaddle off the high wire straight into the Slurpee cup below.
The first year, you will make enough money to cover the cost of your new computer. You’ll also learn 43 ways to make beans totally inedible and discover that not even you can screw up Ramen noodles. You’ll pin up that retirement card your co-workers gave you when you left. They thought you were taking the easy way out by staying home. As the months progress, you will snort out loud when you look at that card, because they had no freaking idea how much work this would be. Honestly, you don’t either.
Thank goodness for the Internet, because you will find a group of maladjusted, muse-addled people who will accept you, mainly because they can’t see you on the days when you’re butt-in-the-chair, beating a deadline while wearing a Scooby-Doo beanie and a muumuu. I won’t mention swatting at your legs because you think there are mosquitoes in the house but really you’ve just forgotten to shave them for ten days in a row, because right now you think writing is glamorous and mysterious and awesome.
You know what, kid? It is.