Were you to ask me—more years ago than I care to mention, back when I was a child playing my Atari—what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer would have been, “a writer.” This response was my standard for many years, even after I stopped firing up my old Brother word processor. Somehow, maybe somewhere between my home state of Wyoming and some time living on the border of Mexico in southern California, I stopped writing, though I still would have answered the question the same way: What did I want to be when I grew up? A writer. In the meantime, I bartended; I worked at a county mental health department; got fired from a place in a mall called “Turtles,” where only turtleneck shirts were sold (that worked out, I’d say); was a buyer for a Harley-Davidson dealership . . . I did so many things. Writing was not one of them.
Thing is, writers have to do one thing: write. (And read, of course. Lots of reading.)
Occasionally, I would make an attempt to write something. Usually fiction. It always ended up in the trash, unseen.
One morning, thirteen years of marriage and a child later, I woke up and realized I still wanted to be a writer. In the meantime, so much had happened, from horrible things—family tragedies to my own mortality scare—to amazing things such as becoming a mother, and finally, in my early forties, figuring out who I really am. It’s sort of ironic, really: all those things had to happen for me to finally see that I can be a writer. Specifically, a nonfiction writer. All those years in between then and now serve me well.
It is not easy to be a graduate student with a family at home. At the end of some days, I feel like a piece of taffy—stretched too thin, struggling to maintain myself—but not a day goes by when it doesn’t feel propitious. Writing is often difficult no matter the circumstances. And I wonder if it would be easier were I younger, living alone. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. I’m here now. No matter my age or life demands, it’s no longer a choice, because even when it’s hard, it’s incredibly fulfilling; it’s urgent, it’s wholly necessary. And all those years wishing and wanting? That gave me fodder for writing now.
I’m a writer. Thank you for asking.
JV Genova is a first-year MFA candidate in nonfiction. She dabbles in photography when she isn’t writing, and cannot believe she is someone’s mother. | Jonnie.Genova@colostate.edu | Visit CSU’s Creative Writing MFA program at https://english.colostate.edu/cwmfa/