Emerging

27May09

I’m here today because my friend Matthew told me to.

I’m a blogger on blogspot where I write the way too occasional blog Diary of a Fab Black Woman.  I started that blog several years ago as a platform to talk about a host of issues that I am moved to mouth off about from time-to-time.  In contrast, this blog, Speechless, allows those interested to peek into the life of someone who is leaving another career to pursue her lifelong goal of becoming a writer.

I am at a period in my life when many of the people around me are re-examining their careers and either making radical changes, like myself, or trying actively to find room in their lives for the things that bring them joy.  My friend Matthew is a lawyer who is giving more and more time to his passion, photography.  Among other gifts, Matthew is a talented photographer.

I am a writer.

I studied writing in college as a journalism major at the University of Southern California.  While I was there I quickly found myself also involved in student government.  At USC at the time, in order to be a member of the student senate, you were required to run a political campaign.  Students seeking election engaged in extensive grassroots organizing to dig up votes from a student population topping 30,000.  I ran a half-hearted campaign thinking I would never be elected.   I garnered the fewest votes among the students to be seated, but somehow I managed to get elected.

For four years I served actively on the student senate.  The details are not all that interesting now, but serving in the senate changed the course of my life.  A small-town writer whose first job was as a sports writer for her town newspaper found herself surrounded by kids who planned to be lawyers, some who planned to run for public office.  Hanging out with this fast-paced pack engaged me fully in community organizing and volunteer work, but it also led me to following my peers in taking a prep course for the LSAT exam that was offered for credit at USC and ultimately taking the LSAT.  Not sure what I was thinking then, but who knows with 20/20 hindsight what they were thinking when they were 20?

After graduation, I moved to San Francisco to become a news writer for a popular drive-time radio show.  Every Monday through Friday, I appeared, bleary-eyed, at 3 a.m. at the loading dock of the San Francisco Chronicle to pick up the first edition of the newspaper and report to my job.  I checked daily police beats, fire beats, and wire services to prepare copy for So-and-So and Whats-His-Name, the drive-time anchors.  Finishing my workday at 10 a.m. was a boon, but I soon grew tired of starting my workday at 2 a.m.  I’m not a morning person, unless staying up until 2 a.m. after a night of partying fits within that definition.  I’m a little more mature these days, but I’m still not a morning person by any definition.  It’s a rare day when I’m up at 2 a.m.

Moving right along, I took another job as an administrative assistant and informal copywriter for a radio sales department at a different station in the San Francisco market.  After a year and a half, I reminded myself that I didn’t go to college to do this kind of work.  I’d started on the remarkable adventure of becoming a journalist, and I needed return to my quest.

I decided that I should get a graduate degree to make myself more marketable as a journalist.  I’ll admit to a couple of things here.  I’m not an interventionist.  I like my life to happen organically.  (Translation:  I tend to be lazy.)  Since I had taken the LSAT and gotten decent scores that were still valid, I applied to law school.  There are lots of details here that I won’t bother with.  I had a pipeline to a commercial copy writing job for a large department store, and I’d gotten an enthusiastic though informal job offer.  The day after I secured the offer, the store called me to tell me the store was reorganizing and moving the headquarters to Plano, Texas.  They weren’t expecting there to be room for me there, and moving to Texas was not part of my plans.  I went home from work that day with my head hanging in despair.

However.

When I got home, I found in my mail my first acceptance letter to law school.  The dye had been cast.

I never intended to be a lawyer.  My plan was to go to school for three years to get a couple of letters to put behind my name.  By accident, I was swept up in the high energy of law school.  I found myself taking courses like tax.  Utterly ridiculous.  But I’m certain it was not demonic possession.  I just lost my way.  Law school is a very structured place, and always being one to comply (but complain about it), I accidently became a lawyer.

Almost 20 years later and with many lessons under my belt, I am a writer.  I’m an organicist, which is probably not a word.  I’m taking liberties as a creative thinker.  But I have no regrets about becoming a lawyer.  I’m pleased about it.  It has given me maturity, focus, and authority.

This blog will track the challenges I face as I redefine myself.

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