Sunday, June 17, 2012

accidental juggler

Last night Brett and I were having dinner over at Jon and Maria's and Brett started a conversation about academic writing and said something like, "Well, the two of you are writers and you understand..." and Jon just nodded and kept a steady trot alongside Brett and Maria in conversation, and I am sure I did as well, but that moment kinda stopped me. I am a writer. I know this. I write here nearly every day. I have books with my name on the spine. I write articles for magazines and online news media blogs for two countries but when I hear or see someone point to me and say "writer" it still seems kind of odd. Like as if someone handed me three balls and I kept them in the air long enough they called me Juggler.

I understand if anyone out there desires to be a writer, I sound like a total dick right now. That is not my intention.

I am honestly being incredulous. I never meant to be a writer. I never took writing courses, or went to writing workshops or events. I never opened a single copy of Writer's Journal or anything like that. In high-school I was invited to go to the Pennsylvania "Governor's School" summer session for writing, but I turned it down because I was 16 and had a boyfriend and I wanted to hang out with him and watch Buffy and travel to South Dakota for a few weeks. I didn't want to sit in a college and write.

My first book was picked up by a publisher because one night on the phone with my friend Raven (an Idaho to Maryland conversation) she told me I should write a book about backyard homesteading as a renter. So that weekend I googled "How to publish a non-fiction book" and got the news I needed to submit a proposal with a writing sample. Okay. Check. I went to a book store and saw books about homesteading and farming and wrote down their names, went to those publisher's websites, and Storey happened to list exactly what they wanted in a book proposal. So I followed that, designed it pretty, and sent it in. I got an email back in five days from the woman who would become my future editor.

It happened because I asked. Things only happen if you ask.

So here I am, a few years down the pipe and I'm now a full-time writer. I love writing. I can't imagine going a day without it. I find I am always writing, or wanting to share stories and feelings and ideas. It's become such a focus in my life it constantly surprises me. I find myself taking notes for blog posts on my hands in black pen ink, or writing first sentences on my iPhone's notepad so I can remember it. It's a craft I feel stalked me from the bushes and jumped me. Writing has made me its bitch and I'm now branded as a steer's rump with my occupation. Happily so.

And so on Jon's porch I was a writer last night, and I think I finally believed it when I heard it. No one slammed their hand on the table and called me on it. Not even me, and that was the first time. How about that?


Blogger Chautauqua said...

"Writing has made me its bitch and I'm now branded as a steer's rump with my occupation. Happily so." ... I am happy, too, that writing has made you its bitch! haha. Your heart shines thru all that you write, and reading your blog is shear joy for me. Keep it up, you writer you!
(on another note - I've registered for the fiddle camp, but I have no idea where your place is so that I can make sleeping arrangements, GPS arrangements, etc Help!) trish

June 17, 2012 at 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's taken me almost 10 years not to do a double take when people refer to me as a teacher. For years I kept feeling like someone was going to come along and say "Sorry, there's been a mistake, we thought you were someone else, turn in your class list and leave". Congratulations on accepting the title, because you most certainly have earned it.

June 17, 2012 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger City Girl said...

I am so glad there are people like you who dare to write books and take on the crazy world of publishing! If not, we would be left with those people who have "connections" with editors and publishers.....but who really don't have much to say. I've read a few books like that. I love honest, true, and heartfelt memoirs like the stories you write. Keep on writing and we will keep on reading! :-)


June 17, 2012 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger Jim Cobb said...


June 17, 2012 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

Being the Inkslinger that you are makes a lot of Cold Antler Farm Blog fans very happy.
I for one really enjoy. Thanks.
Ronnie A very happy X seat weaver.

June 17, 2012 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger jonkatz said...

You are a writer.

June 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger polly said...

:) "how about that?" :)

June 18, 2012 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Chrissy said...

Just started reading your blog. I'm also trying to build a mini-homestead out of the backyard of my rented house. And I'm also a writer. :)

Glad to have found you, and looking forward to reading along.

June 18, 2012 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger Christee said...

I am considering a career in writing so thank you for explaining how you got started.

I first read one of your articles in Mother Earth News and then read your book "Made from Scratch" and have been hooked ever since.

So you are a HUGE inspiration for me and I look forward to the next chapter of your career.

Thanks for all you do!

June 19, 2012 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Congratulations ! of course you do realize that once you are used to wearing the hat of Writer, someone will com along and refer to you as a "Farmer" and your puzzlement will start all over again. Life is grand up here in Washington County for those who adapt to wearing many hats, indeed thrive, as you do, on wearing many hats.

June 19, 2012 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Jenna, one of the things I've noticed is that you don't overthink things too much. You just decide to do something, and you do it! That's such a rare and valuable trait, and one that I think most of us could use to get farther along with things that we want for ourselves.

June 21, 2012 at 12:05 AM  

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