Are you holding on to your seat and do you have tissues? You may fall and cry.
I, Kimberley, am soon going to be a published, professional writer; for the first time since 1984 when I was born.
Some way, somehow, the editor of The New York Times’ Motherlode blog knew that I was alive. She actually friggin’ knew I exist. And she friggin Tweeted me.
And she said something to the effect of, would I like to write a guest post for the Motherlode?
To which, I replied in my head, “What the hell kinda question is that don’t you know I’m a nobody who would write corner store signs if offered the chance?
But that’s not what I said to her. First off, I was super nervous because she was so editory, like she wrote to me and it was ‘whatever’ and she was just doing her job. So I wanted to be breezy, but not like all ego-maniacal like I wasn’t about to pee my pants. Because I surely was about to pee my pants. I was ecstatic and shocked beyond belief. The first email I wanted to send was going to say simply, “Are you sure you know who I am?” I decided against that. So I replied, Oh yeah, Ms. Editor of A New York Times Blog, I’ll see if I can fit some professional writing in between nursing my toddler and cooking Second Lunch…I’ll see. Lo and behold, there was time.
I had stage fright. I spent the next week with a really bad stomach ache and shaky hands. I got a case of writer’s block like no other. I had no idea what to write about. I had no idea who I wanted to sound like (because surely sounding like Kimberley wasn’t good enough?). This is what I’d hated about school – left to my own devices, I perform well. Sometimes, better than well. But give me a deadline, or an assignment, or tell me I’m being tested – nope, no good, I’m out. Then I started to wish I’d never even gotten on Twitter, never heard of the Times. But I wasn’t about to blow this. I put my game face on and thought, Oh, Ms. Editor of A New York Times Blog, you think you’re slick, dontcha? You’re trying to kill me, arentcha? You knew I’m no professional anything. You’ve been hired to undo me, huh? Nosiree. I’m about to write the best damn blogpost you’ve ever read.
Except really I wasn’t. I had nothing. But I faked it. I wrote something I thought was writer-y, and would pass, and emailed it to her.
Then I waited.
Then I heard back. And you know what she said?
Something to the effect of, Oh, deary me, I don’t know what you sent me but I can’t edit Hot Mess. I want you to write like you do on your blog. This is the real deal, rookie. Now stop being a baby and write a new piece. (She didn’t use those exact words, especially that last part.)
And you know what I took from that spectacular rejection? Aside from the return of my right-eye twitch?
I want you to write like you do on your blog.
She’d read my blog. She knew my voice. This is a real writer, with a real job, reading my stuff, just doing her job, but changing my life in the meantime. I felt like a million dollars, I swear. If you read my blog or follow me on Facebook, you’re not surprised that I cried. What a dope I was being! Here I was trying to write like Langston Hughes and she just wanted me to be Kimberley. Ole’ boring, unpublished, never-sure-when-to-use-a-semi-colon; Kimberley. She just wanted me to be myself.
I be’d myself (as Lo would say) and wrote a new piece. Sent it back in. Waited. Waited. Waited.
Then I heard back.
She’s going to edit it, and she’s going to publish it.
I AM SO PROFESSIONAL. I need a suit, and a briefcase to fill with apple cider doughnuts. I need a desk to color and sleep on. I need an office for my girls to fling dirt around. I need an assistant who sits outside my office and we have those linked phones and I can buzz him and say things like, “Anderson? Logan wants more apple juice, please, room temperature and no complaining – I’m a professional writer with exactly one job not even under my belt yet, you know? Thanks, doll.” You guys, I am like so professional.
Of course I’m kidding. If, whenever I do become a “real” writer I don’t want any of those things. Actually, this experience has taught me why I love writing: the readers. I love sharing myself and my stories and hearing about others. I love gobbling up all these emotions we feel and all the tragedy we witness and the bliss we are graced with every now and again, gobbling it all and chewing it and spitting it back out at you as something that others can relate to, something that unites us for the five minutes it takes you to read. I love that. I love writing. I love words. I love The New York Times. I love blogging. I love being unprofessional and getting offered one real job and I’m always going to remember this little moment, when someone actually just wanted me to be myself.
That, I can do.