Something has happened to me. I’ve gone from being a nurse to being a ‘nerd.’ A book on commas (Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, by Mary Norris) was a page-turner. I am buried in an on-line editing class, and I can’t contain my glee or my impatience to get on to the next lesson. I’m so absorbed I forget to eat—Oh my goodness. What’s that? Ah . . . hunger. I’ve become obsessed, buried in a heap of books strewn from one end of my couch to the other. Piles of printouts litter my floor. There is nowhere left to walk. I feel my pulse quicken each time I open my laptop, turn a page. Style manuals are my new BFF. What has come over me!
I am simultaneously taking a local writing course: turns out you have to write in this class. A lot. Whether you are in the mood, or not. I normally only write when something comes up for me. An idea. My muse being stirred. A notion. A need to pontificate. I never write just to write. What a concept. Now, here I am filling page after page with stream-of-consciousness drivel. Words tumble out of me. I’m all over the map. But, hey, I think; no one will see this except the instructor. I can say anything; I will not be held accountable. Here’s the thing, though: in addition to that, I have to write two to three pages a week that I will be held accountable for. I may even have to read it out loud. Yikes. I don’t have three pages worth of words in me at any given moment. When I write, I begin and finish it on a single page, or max—maybe one and a half pages. Period. The story just seems to wrap itself up, like it’s stopped by some internal braking system. . . That’s it. Enough said. You’re done.
This madness all started in January when a friend of mine asked me to “clean up” the pages of her book so it would be presentable enough to send to an editor. Voila! Turned out this kind of work was an unexpected fit. It was fun; I delighted in punctuation and grammar. I took pleasure in the rhythm of sentences, noticing how just the changing of a punctuation mark could make a sentence “pop.” I bought books and began to study. The more I did it, the more bonkers I became. Other friends started sending me their website narratives to edit, blog posts to look over, stories to tweak. And—I love it. Simply love it. It is satisfying to work with someone to help their words read smoothly, clearly, and come alive. What a strange shift: from a healthcare professional to word-crafting geek and writer.
What the heck, I thought; it’s never too late to start a new, end-of-life career. So, I’ve put my toe in the water; we’ll see where this goes. I love the juice and passion this has aroused in me. I feel I can help people in an entirely new way. Just as when I was a midwife, using my skills and knowledge and support to help a woman give birth to a child, so can I now use this midwife sensibility and my developing skills to help someone give birth to their voice, their story. Or, as a friend of mine said—offer labor support for authorship.
Crazy? Perhaps. But—again—maybe not. I’d been looking for a way, besides nursing, to bring in more income, and then another door opened, as it often does. I’ve decided to develop a freelance editing business called Word Craft Midwife. Not hanging my shingle out yet, but soon. It’s in the “research and development” stage. Pretty trippy. Stay tuned, folks.