Tuesday night, I went to a writer’s expo sponsored by the Boulder Writer’s Alliance.
I put on my “nice clothes” and pulled back my crazy red hair and tried to magically turn my red converse sneakers (the only shoes I own) into fancy-leather-woman shoes.
I entered a room full of real writers. Rather, TECHNICAL writers. Slightly disheveled men and women with bright white stickers below their shoulders exclaiming their names in black marker.
I pretended I wasn’t me: Woody Allen-esque woman with too many stutters and not enough full sentences. Knowing what I want to say and yet, something disturbing it on the way down from brain to tongue.
The room was set up in round tables with tiny signs declaring the topic touched on: Media, Creative Writing: how to write a mystery, …..
I entered a table full of women wearing glasses of wine and wedding rings with the sign: FREELANCE.
The woman facilitating it was a copywriter. A writer who sells, she said. I quietly sat, in my imaginary high heels, thrusting my chest out to boost my self esteem. Kind of like fluffing my feathers, if I was a bird. Instead, I fluff my cleavage–which I also pretend I have.
Many women were curious about what a copywriter was–how to become a writer–how do I know what to write?–how much do you charge?—questions that yielded short answers and lost women.
My brain made a noise. A sound of ingredients thrown into a metal bowl. Wooden spoon sifting the materials around. Shoving them against each other. A rattle and splatter of calories against a wall.
I had something to say.
Umm……I’m a freelance writer…..and…..what I’m having trouble with…..what I…..well…….basically…..I have no health insurance and I wonder how someone who essentially works for themselves and freelances work out can feel insured or covered in some way.
Deep breath. Lots of words. Did they come out right? Breathe. Breathe. Good job!
And the woman with red lips and visible bra straps who worked full time as a copywriter and owned her own small business and was important enough to have a name tag with a shiny gold star sticker on it said:
Well……I have a husband so……
* * * *
I struggle with identity.
I struggle with being in a room with other writers and wondering if I am an impostor. Do I write enough? Is it valid? Decent?
Will I ever make a living as a writer?
Needless to say, the Writer’s Expo was not the right venue for me. It was geared toward technical writers and the contacts I was hoping to make were not interested in a performance artist/poet/erotica writer/ experimental prose pusher.
So, I grabbed my small red bookbag (posing as an expensive clutch that held a dozen credit cards and enough cash to fill my little car with gasoline) and walked out in my red converse high heeled sneakers.