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The Great Hunt

Well, it's that season of my life again: Job Hunting.

I hate it. But, it is a necessary evil.

Seriously, though, I am baffled. Why do companies care what high school I went to? I graduated from it more than a decade ago, and it's about 3,000 miles away. So what does it matter? Ugh. I feel like filling out applications kills a little bit of my soul every time.

Okay, so I'm being melodramatic. I'm just frustrated that I haven't found anything yet. Even the jobs that I've interviewed for aren't making a decision as quickly as I'd like them to. Not to mention, none of the jobs are exactly things I see myself doing for very long.

At this point, well-meaning, good-hearted people always say to me: "What do you want to do?"

And my answer is always a half-hearted, wistful mention of my writing. But I had a revelation lately. Writing isn't a carer for me, either. Not because I haven't been officially published; I'm learning not to look at publication as a "stamp of approval" from the world certifying me as a "real" author anymore. It's just that writing isn't as much a calling as it is a part of me. I write. I can't help myself. Even when I don't have paper or a computer in front of me, I am telling stories. Sometimes they are only in my head--that steady stream of narration that frames who I am and what I'm doing throughout the day.

Still...it would be nice to get published. I read this great book a little while ago called "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, and she talks about how her writing students always come to class wanting to know how they can get their writing into print. And she instead tells them that most likely, their expectations of publication will not come true. It doesn't often bring fame, fortune, and a sense of purpose. But, she says, write anyway. Writing should be its own reward and joy.

It was good for me to be reminded of that. I am trying to use this time of unemployment to work on queries and outlines and revisions (as well as my other stories). But it's because I want to share my stories with the world, not because I need a sense of self. Part of what I love about writing is connecting with other people. Lately, I've been exchanging books and notes with my friends who are also writers. It's not only fun, it's helpful!!

Another thing that has encouraged me is a favorite author of mine. I've been reading a lot of Madeleine L'Engle lately. And I am struck by how she beautifully intertwines the ordinary and the extraordinary, the mundane and the cosmic. I want to be able to write like that, to create and develop characters that really grow and speak and do amazing things.

So, it's not so much that I just want to be a published author; I want to be a really great writer. I want to write things that speak to people and move them to tears and laughter. I am a writer; what I desire is to be really great at it. And that desire is so strong that most other things pale in comparison.

In the end, is that what I've been hunting all along? Maybe.