A few months ago, I created an Instagram account so I could give a poor barefooted child a pair of shoes by posting a photo of my feet in all their calloused glory. Once my shiny new account was up and running, the app immediately suggested I follow a number of my Facebook contacts, including my younger brother. Like an enthusiastic Instanoob, I did so and came face to face with my little bro’s account.
First, a brief and hopefully humorous aside on the bio line—Pralines and Dick. I assumed it either stemmed from some obscure post-college inside joke or was a seemingly nonsensical phrase my brother came up with to poetically convey his high vs. low culture mash-up lifestyle. I thought it might be his clever way of saying, “Hey, I’m a guy who can rub elbows with foodies and thoughtfully sip craft beer, and then come home and stuff my face with Cheetos while watching cartoons.” The phrase connotes an air of delicate refinement mixed with something irreverent and possibly obscene, which kinda captures the life of hip, educated, mid-twenties city-dwellers in a nutshell.
Alas, it turns out it’s actually a line from Wayne’s World. The irony here is that my brother the millennial has seen Wayne’s World enough times to pick up on this line and use it as his Instagram tagline. As a borderline Gen-Xer who is actually old enough to remember Wayne’s World being in theaters, I didn’t even get the reference. Whatevs.
Anyway, back to the meat of this post. My bro’s recent grams included lovely shots of weekend trips to the cape (as in Cod, for those non-New Englanders), scenic hikes, surf spots, and, of course, food, all with thoughtful and humorous commentary. Because I overthink everything, his photos brought on two interconnected writer-crises. Let me break it down for you.
Crisis numero uno started with Who is this kid who supposedly gestated in the same womb as me? Seriously, pralines and dick aside, I recognized next-to-nothing of the brother I thought I knew in those grams. Sure, I was vaguely aware that he surfed and did seemingly interesting things with his time, but here was a whole three-dimensional life full of passions and interests in Instaform that I had zilch to do with. I was also struck by the knowledge that these photos were just the tip of the iceberg, the highlight reel. Beyond the photos were undoubtedly all sorts of factoids, experiences, and idiosyncrasies I had no clue about. Ultimately, though I’d grown in up close quarters with the guy, I had no idea what made my brother tick.
Then, I realized my writer-life must look the same way to my brother, except substantially less cool. My bro knows that I write and he’s been as supportive as a non-writer can be. But I can say with a fair degree of certainty that he’s never read a single word I’ve written and probably won’t even read this post. And even if he did, he’d be getting the Instaform of my experiences as a writer. A complete and thoroughly edited writer-work represents the clean, polished, curated version of writer-life. A finished product rarely conveys the blood, sweat, tears, hair-tearing-out, chunks-of-beating-heart-ripped-out-of-gaping-chest-wound and general struggle that it takes to string words together and breathe life into an idea or story.
I’d felt before like I was writing in a vacuum or screaming into a digital void, but I don’t think it had ever hit me so hard. Here I was, pouring my mind, soul, time and energy into something that, if I was lucky, only a tiny handful of people were going to appreciate. And those people didn’t even include my own brother who I, apparently, didn’t really know. Which brings me to writer-crisis two, which started with Why don’t I spend my weekends jet-setting to the cape and eating pork belly at hipster bistros and taking snapshots of my awesome life?
Oh, right, because I spend my weekends with my nose in a laptop, cranking out imaginary worlds. I also happen to have a kid and I’m not a twenty-something single dude, but still. It’s mostly because I’ve chosen a hobby that I love dearly but that’s really more than a hobby and only seems glamorous inside my head. Would my life be better if I picked a less life-consuming creative project? Is there such a thing?
I’m not the first writer to experience these crises and I certainly doubt I’ll be the last. But something absolutely ridiculous happened a few weeks ago that made it all seem more than worth it.
I got THE CALL. After almost a full year of querying, an honest-to-goodness literary agent read my novel, said some awfully nice things about it, and then offered me representation. My head pretty much exploded with shock and validation. The moral of this after-school special: Don’t give up on your dreams, even if your dreams sometimes make you want to chuck your laptop across the room.
With this blog, I plan to document my journey from here to (fingers crossed!) publication. And, because writing doesn’t consume my entire life (just most of it), I’ll also post occasional pieces on work, family, and pop culture musings.
Get ready, peeps. My messy mind has found its way onto the interwebs.