A Memoir Changed My Life (Continued)


In case you missed part one, read this first: Some Book Changed My Life Tonight, Sugar Bear.

When I started out as a copywriter for a publishing company, I basically was the happiest person on earth. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to write and edit. If it would’ve been the social norm to gambol down the streets while singing a jaunty tune, I would’ve done it. That’s how happy writing made me.

After six months of writing bios and editing lyrics, I was asked to interview for a copy editor position.

I almost declined it. Actually, I wrote out the reply email that explained why I was declining it, and then I deleted it. I took a five-minute break and called my sister.

I called her and told her that I really, really wanted the job, but there was no way I was smart enough to edit novels. There was no way I would be good enough. I thought I had to be forty years old to edit a novel. I have no idea how I came up with that.

My sister, the most pragmatic woman I know, said, “Just interview for it. You’ll figure it out as you go along. Plenty of people interview for jobs they think they can’t do, and they wind up being great at it.”

Well, I couldn’t argue with that logic. I interviewed for the job and took a copyediting test. I walked out of the office just knowing that I completely bombed the test. I knew I had failed it. There was no way I could’ve passed it.

That week, my boss asked to meet with me to go over the test. I was completely prepared for her to say, “You are a sorry excuse for an editor. You missed every single thing on this sheet of paper. You make me sick. Ew.”

Instead, she offered me the job.

I said, “What? Are you sure? Didn’t I bomb the test?”

She laughed and said, “No! You only missed four errors. Most editors I interview miss fourteen on up.”

After my ego and I slid through the door, I smiled all the way to my desk like an idiot. A gloriously happy idiot.

I loved editing novels as much as I loved writing bios. Asking me if I love editing more than writing is like asking me which one of my kids I love the most. I don’t have kids, though. I also don’t have an answer to the question.

Fast-forward to when I joined a book club at my work. The first book on the list? None other than Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. As I re-read that book, I remembered why I wanted to be in this profession: it pushes me to be more and more creative every day. Writing keeps my head up in the sky where it belongs. It forces me to break through writer’s block and emerge with something original. Writing is exasperating and difficult and challenging—the recipe for success in my opinion. It helps me express my emotions, because, let’s get real: I bottle all of mine up. Internalize your emotions, kids. It’s perfectly normal.

A memoir changed my life. A memoir on a dusty library shelf changed my life because I wanted to have that same smile Stephen King did on his book cover. Because I wanted to create something beautiful, something funny, something intelligent.

A memoir changed my life because I wanted to fall in love with writing.