I wanted a sandwich: freshly baked bread, spicy mustard, provolone cheese, a layer of creamy mayonnaise, crisp green bell pepper, tomatoes, a pile of shredded lettuce.
It was late morning, and I had none of this at home, so I drove to the closest place that was open: Jersey Mikes.
I’d arrived just after the store opened, so they were still prepping. I was glad to wait, and chatted with the staff. One person asked me how my day was going, and if I was working. I said yes, and they asked what I did.
Because it’s the easiest thing to say, I said, “I’m a writer.” (I could have also said, “Hi! I’m an introvert who’s not great at small talk!”)
“Oh, I’ve always wanted to write,” they said.
“You should!” I said, with some actual enthusiasm. “Why not? Maybe just try starting—it doesn’t have to be perfect.”
That’s so much easier to say, especially for someone who’s working in a job that keeps them in one physical location and interacting with people all day, never mind economic and other barriers that may not allow people the space and time.
As I drove home, I realized that, while I can’t do help with those barriers, I can do more to share my knowledge and experiences, like I did in every class I taught during my 20 years of teaching at a college.
I’ll continue to work one-on-one with writers who need individualized help, but there’s more I can do, too.
Should I create a new blog? Start on TikTok? I decided to relaunch my personal site, which was previously just an online resume, and this blog. For sure, there’s still a lot of vanity here—it’s a useful way for me to keep track of my own writing and experiences—but I hope what I publish in this space will also be useful.
It’s taken me a few months to get the infrastructure together. My site was built on an old WordPress framework, so I moved to GeneratePress. Then came the fun part: customizing it, and building space for this writing. I can tinker with fonts and sizes and colors for days, weeks, years.
Fear may have also led me to move more slowly: My own writing—especially 23+ years on reality blurred—is far from perfect. There are the frequent typos my eyes miss when I re-read my own work on a screen or ideas that I published to the world before they were fully formed. Who am I to offer advice?
But that’s the point I tried to make at Jersey Mike’s.
If I’d waited for my writing to be perfect, I never would have written a single word on reality blurred. I wouldn’t be a writer who has 23 years and thousands and thousands of pieces written, never mind everything those pieces have led to, professionally and personally.
Sure, typos or factual errors make my heart sink. But those can be corrected. I’m okay with making mistakes in public, and building this space as I go.
My initial goal is to share something that’s helped me as a writer—books, tools, ideas, practices—once a week. Perhaps I’ll end up doing more, but that’s the start. Here’s the first example: shitty first drafts.
I hope what I share in this space will be helpful to you, whether you have an idea for a book or just want to refine your Instagram captions, and cannot wait to hear about your ideas. Let’s create something new together!