Boston is a great place to live if you’re a writer. Colleges and universities with excellent writing programs abound. Organizations like 826 Boston and Grub Street offer supportive communities and classes outside of an academic setting. The annual Boston Book Festival has attracted some amazing writers (such as Jennifer Egan and Ha Jin in 2011), and there are always tons of readings and events at the many local independent bookstores that dot the landscape. New York may have the most agents and publishers, but Boston does have its share, and they’re a diverse and respected group.
When I moved here, part of the impetus was the idea that this was going to be the place where I got my writing career started in earnest. I pictured a daily life of reading, writing, thinking, and drinking (sometimes coffee, sometimes beer) while the stories just poured out of me. Then I started grad school, freaked out about how expensive everything was in the city, and got a full-time job because I’m too pragmatic for my own good. So much for sitting around reading, writing, and thinking (though there is a fair amount of drinking in publishing, so at least one out of four was getting covered). And yet, for a few years at least, I still felt like I had plenty of free time and brain space to devote to inventing stories, writing them down, revising them, throwing them aside in disgust, and picking them up again tentatively weeks later to polish them and try to find them a home.
Then my life got crazier and busier, and even more expensive, and my writing slipped repeatedly to the side. My dreams of a fiction writing career collapsed under the weight of the life of a freelancer, and later a mother. This is not, of course, an unusual position to be in, but I do wonder how typical it is to try to struggle back from it. I know people who treat the dissolution of their artistic dreams as a rite of passage into adulthood, rather than as something that you try, with serious intent, to reverse. This has always bothered me. Maybe that’s partly because I hate having anyone boss me around all the time (you hear that, Reality?). But I also think it’s sad to give up on something that you’ve really wanted for a long time without fighting for it, even if it means fighting with yourself.
So my only resolution for 2012 is already in effect and has been since late last year. It is to start thinking of myself as a writer again. This means putting myself in places and situations where writing is in the forefront of my mind, believing the words I say when I say I’m a writer. Maybe it means more classes at Grub Street or volunteering for 826 Boston if I can find the time. Of course, it also requires butt-in-chair time spent writing, but hey, that’s what I’m doing now, isn’t it? This is my starting point, or more accurately, my re-starting point, and I’m glad I’m still in Boston for it.