Today I officially “claim” that sentence as my own. Sure, in years past I could have said that I write for a living (in a public relations capacity) but I never claimed the “writer” label, instead using it to describe my dream of one day becoming one. The pipe dream that I could cling to in the hopes that one day it would come true.
Funny it took a hurricane, nay a super storm, some may even say the perfect storm to bring it to fruition.
More than a year ago, I sat at Lolita Bar in Manhattan for the Restless Legs reading series. Over the course of an evening and several pints of Sierra Nevada, I watched women share their personal stories that were published in Travelers’ Tales, Best Women Travel Writing, an anthology of short stories. I was transported by their tales and mesmerized by the caliber of talent and creativity that stood before me. Surely there was something different about these women, they had that certain je ne sais quoi that I, a mere writing day dreamer, could never possess.
I bought the book, added to my “to-read” nightstand and was happy to have discovered a new travel anthology. And that was that, or so I thought. Last month, a friend on Twitter alerted me to the fact that the submission deadline for the next Best Women’s Travel Writing anthology was upon us….October 30th, 2012.
I had a story. I had time. So I attacked my white board – drew out my story arc to visualize where I needed to go. Being the ever type-a Virgo, I even created a “deadlines” list with key draft milestones I wanted to hit and the drop dead date for submission. Yeah, I’m that girl.
Thanks to my new writing regimen, draft one was a breeze. The following revisions followed like clockwork, a day or two away to come at it with fresh eyes and then vicious editing. It was ruthless, it was empowering. I felt writer-ly. I had just finished my 6th draft, but instead of submitting early, on Monday, October 29th I printed out a 7th draft and put it aside to review at the end of the work day. The threat of the hurricane loomed large, but I figured I had time. After all, the worst wouldn’t hit until after midnight.
With the work day complete and red-stained draft in hand, I started making the final edits. Anderson Cooper stood on the boardwalk in Asbury Park as the foamy sea tugged as his legs and flooded Convention Hall. Looking at Marc in the kitchen making dinner I felt the time slipping away from me as the lights flickered overhead. Then it was gone.
No lights. No Anderson Cooper. Darkness.
I stared at my computer screen, cut off from the world. I hadn’t procrastinated, I was being thorough and now I was being…punished. I went to bed I hoped the next day would bring with it sunshine and Fios.
Sadly it was not to be. The Jersey Shore was decimated and Marc’s parents were evacuated. The priority shifted as we set out to help his parents move waterlogged boxes and mementos flooded with sea water. I brought my computer with me in the hopes that being a little further north would offer better 4G exposure. Luckily through Marc’s phone, the ethernet sprang to life as I angled his iPhone and my computer to the kitchen window for maximum cell phone tower exposure. I clicked send and watched in anxiety as each megabit per second ticked off like it was 1998 and AOL dial-up was king.
After 15 minutes, a new line appeared in my sent file. Success.
A day later I received a note from the editor, Lavinia Spalding, thanking me for entry and wishing me well post-storm. In that moment, I realized the happy ending to this story doesn’t include whether my story is accepted. The writing process sustains me and come hurricane or high water, I am a writer.
Damn, it feels good to type that.