Friday, May 29, 2009


When I stumbled into retail a few years back I felt like such a fraud. Though I had been a serious indie store stalker for many years, I had very little actual retail experience. My girlfriend, in what was probably a post-partum act of delirium, hired me to manage her hipster gift shop. Three months later she sent me to the gift market as a buyer with a list of vendors to visit and instructions to "just go ahead and order anything else cool."

So there I was, with someone else's credit cards, navigating thirty floors of products. I was terrified. I tried to bolster myself with the facts: I had a pretty good feel for the aesthetic of the store. I had list of previous orders to work from. I had a budget. I could cancel orders once I got back. Still, it was difficult to convince myself that I could pull it off without the safety net of experience to call on.

I like feeling like I am fully qualified to do something. That I have been well trained to make the right choices. That there is some knowledge base in my mind which gives me the undeniable permission to do whatever it is I am doing.

Which is probably why motherhood is such a struggle. And why slogging my way along towards being a writer feels so scary.

I don't have a literary background. My sophomore year of college, I ditched the English department and went in a different direction, ending up with a degree in computers. Then I chucked my corporate gig for a stint in retail. My mind is filled with tidbits of systems upgrades and five year color trends. Knowing that purple has been staging a comeback for the last three years (and failing to really take hold), isn't going to help me write a book or pitch an article. People who have been into this stuff for years mention things I have never heard of, like The Chicago Manual of Style, and I smile and nod and think yeah, what she said, then I go home and google it. I read, but I don't consider myself well read. I am usually too unsure of myself to use a semi-colon; I have a long way to go.

Yesterday, I signed up for a writer's weekend hosted by the Sun Magazine. The conference is touted as one appropriate for all levels of writers and I am just going to believe it. I think it will feel exactly like my first trip to the gift market. Intimidating as hell.

I did end up with a decent pile of orders at that first gift show. I did go on to own a store myself. Somewhere in between I started to feel legit. I think eventually I'll probably find my groove as a writer too. I have allowed myself to believe that you can get where you want to be with some persistence and a lucky break or two.

I just hate the part right before it happens.


Linda Pressman said...

What a lovely post! I want to remind you what I remind myself: All beginnings are hard. Of course, with writing I'd say that the middle is hard too... And here I'm stuck!

paul said...

Try as I might, I just can't comment on anything except that the picture of Girlie and Little Guy make me laugh out loud...repeatedly.

Can't wait to see you in real time!