Finding Purpose in Odd Places
What does a ballet barre have to do with a byline? Oddly enough, I acquired the first drops of courage necessary to embrace the title, writer, while pursuing a graduate degree in Dance Education. I wrote movie reviews and commentaries on dance, art and culture for Showtime magazine, Theatermania.com and Dance Insider magazine. They weren’t well-paying gigs but they usually came with free passes to performances and my name in the paper or on the Internet! What more could a graduate student want?
For more than a year, I was a freelance writer for the Call & Post Newspaper, a small Columbus, Ohio-based weekly publication, covering a variety of entertainment and feature stories. In addition to generating my own story ideas, I arranged and conducted interviews and did my own photography at remote locations. At the same time, and of less glamorous stature, I was an assistant grant writer at the Wexner Center for the arts. My entire life was dancing, writing, eating, sleeping and my son.
I discovered that like dancing, writing satisfied a creative craving within. Suddenly, the book ideas that had been confined to a dormant existence as mostly empty, saved files on my old laptop now seemed like possible realities. I could write—at least my editors were convinced that I could. Now, I had the courage to keep writing. New York was calling.
New York, New York
New York, New York big city of dreams, as Grandmaster Flash called it, became my city of dreams for a summer. I interned with Elizabeth Zimmer at the Village Voice, learning that making your point with less words is more. I never dreamed that a dance degree would lead me to taking the train from Brooklyn into the Village Voice office every day. I was dancing free, a young woman experiencing a dream unfold before her eyes. And I was learning how to write from the best minds in the business and taking African dance classes from the best New York had to offer.
The Dancing Stopped: The Dichotomy Began
Then, the dancing stopped. Winter had come. It was time to graduate and bills needed to be paid. I had a son to take care of, so I returned to the traditional workforce. Now, instead of dancing free I was working for a paycheck. My writing was no longer a free, living and breathing thing—it had restrictions and confines and was told what to care about. As Delatorro McNeal says, I was “Caught Between A Dream and A Job.”
Have you ever been there?
I pressed on and there was a saving grace. I gained experience creating student-facing copy for online courses in Social Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Storytelling and Film. In addition, I used that time to improve my writing and gained exposure to other styles including APA, MLA and Chicago.
The daydreaming led to ideas archived on my computer but this time, I refused to leave them dormant. I began blogging and wrote my first book while keeping my day job. Now, I have self-published 3 books and have plans for 5 more next year. I feel blessed to write and privileged to help others do the same. Perhaps your purpose is also waiting in an odd place.