It's never too late to be a wannabe

My nephew has been visiting, and hanging out with this 23-year old aspiring sci-fi/fantasy novelist has reminded me of the best and worst of what it is to be a wannabe. After staying up until after 4 AM two nights in a row, drinking copious amounts of homemade wine, smoking clove cigarettes, and talking impassioned talk about writing and life, he took off on a road trip to Florida with my son. I threw up and spent the rest of the day in bed. Having gone 46 years without smoking a cigarette and then smoking the entire four decades worth in one night, I was in sad condition. My head was buzzing with idealism, and my throat was acid-raw from laughter and tobacco.

"I'm way too old for these shenanigans," I told Colleen.

"Clove cigarettes!" she said. "I haven't even thought of those since college, when all the Sylvia Plath wannabees smoked 'em. Sounds as if you've had a couple of artsy nights and relived your misspent youth. What could be more fun?"

And you know she's right. (As usual.) We forget as we grow and move forward what it felt like at the outset. The visceral yearning to be read had little to do with money and everything to do with self-expression. Publishing was not a paycheck; it was the Emerald City. A word of encouragement was water in the dry land, even if it didn't come with a book contract. Friends, love, words, sex -- every slide of a pool cue was greased with hyperbole.

It's a little exhausting to be around that now, but good to be reminded that writing is a passion, not just a profession. No matter what I get to be in this biz, I always and forever wannabe a wannabe.

Comments

Loved this, Joni! Sometimes it's just the thing, hanging out with a starry-eyed publishing virgin.

Hope you've slept it off by now. :)

Colleen, interrupted from galleys by a woodpecker who stupidly keeps drilling the Hardiplanked eaves.
Joni Rodgers said…
I so know how that woodpecker feels!
Leigh Ann said…
Okay, so I'm sort of between the starry-eyed publishing virgin and where you are now. I think. Old enough to be a little jaded, but young and unpublished enough to still be hopeful. And a little too modest to play "naked soccer" with my fellow grad students . . . (seriously, there used to be such a thing! shhhh!)
Leigh Ann said…
Eek! That Leigh Ann comment was supposed to be from me, Kathryn, the one from Joni's other blog. That's the last time I try to create a fake blog from the point of view of a character! LOL!
Joni Rodgers said…
Hi, Kathryn. Thanks for stopping by. You are welcome under any name!