An Alternative Writing Life

I was 22; I had graduated college with a BA in English in June 1987. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I only knew what I didn’t want: to have an ordinary life as a suburban breeder who stayed home with the kids while her husband worked on Wall Street.

You could say there was something left of the dial about this tendency even then.

The knee-jerk reaction was to think I could be an editorial assistant at a magazine or publishing house.

Fate decided for me: I had a break, and was shunted into a community mental health system for close to four years: the worst time of my life, ever, even accounting for high school.

I knew since I was seven years old that I wanted to be a writer. How does a kid so young already know something like that? I did; was it an intuition?

As a young person, I didn’t want to birth babies; yet I didn’t want to be poor, so I deluded myself into thinking I could become a corporate superstar. I bombed out of that gray flannel first career with smashing success.

It wasn’t until 2004 that I began writing professionally. Seventeen years later. I started writing my memoir circa 2000, and joined my first writing workshop then. About five or six of us met every week to critique our work. It was free advice, read my lips: free. Out of all of us, I got a literary agent who obtained a book deal for Left of the Dial.

The book impressed the editor yet the deal didn’t go through. I wouldn’t quit, so chose to self-publish because I believed in my story. Self-publishing can lead to a book deal with a house down the road.

The wind-up:

Be brave. If you want to write more than anything, Just Do It like Nike proclaims.

Write because you are a writer, with no regard to whether you get mainstream accolades. Write because to not write would drive you mad. Write because you must.

Keep your eyes open to opportunities: submit your work, and submit it again.

Yet remember this: you are a writer because that’s who you are, not because so-called arbiters in society confer that title on you.

You’re right to write. Just Do It.

I will talk in the future about other writing life topics. Stay tuned.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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