I hit a big milestone at work yesterday. A bucket list milestone.
The company I work for, Automattic, makes the WordPress.com blogging software: the software I use to publish this blog. This same software powers the internal communication tool we use so that 1532 of us in 82 countries can work together without having to co-locate in offices. The tool is called P2, and basically it’s an internal blog. Or, more accurately, more than 1300 internal blogs that we use to communicate with our coworkers, to share and discuss ideas, document projects and processes, brainstorm, and communicate progress, obstacles, and successes.
In other words, I get to blog all day at work. (not really, but kind of). We have a dashboard that shows P2 stats like the number of posts and comments we’ve published. Yesterday, I checked my word count and squealed. I finally passed a milestone I’ve aspired to hit: I’ve written a million words on our P2s.
Since my twenties, when I completed a 330-mile bike ride from North Carolina to Washington, DC, I’ve day-dreamed of being a writer. The bike ride was the AIDS Ride, and I raised $1700 to participate. The event changed my life in many ways. Before the ride, I was a non-athlete whose gym grade brought down my grade point average. The AIDS Ride opened my eyes to the power of my own body. Training for and finishing the event showed me I can do things I didn’t know I had the strength to do.
It also showed me the power of writing, and more importantly, how much I enjoyed writing outside of my journal. I wrote letters to fundraise, and once I hit my fundraising goal, I wrote letters to my donors to share the experience of those 3.5 days in the saddle of a bicycle. I loved describing the donuts we ate, the people I met, the pain and the joy of climbing and then careening down the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Writing those updates was a delight to me.
After that was when I started to seek books to learn more about the craft of writing. In my journals from my twenties, I wrote many variations, in many entries, of “I want to be a writer.”
I didn’t really know what that looked like. When I thought of “writer,” I thought novelist, short story author, journalist, columnist. Writers write books. What would I write a book about? I couldn’t visualize myself creating any of these things. I couldn’t see myself as a writer.
And yet. I’ve written a million words at work. My title is not Writer. But writing is what I do.
I couldn’t see what being a writer would look like for me when I dreamed of being one. Now, I’m beginning to understand that I like writing as a communication tool, not because I want to write books or magazine articles. Writing to communicate brings me deep satisfaction and makes me feel like I’m fulfilling my potential.
I think the framing of being a writer threw me off because I had a preset image of what a writer is or should be. What I really wanted wasn’t a title or a specific job. I just wanted to write. I dreamed of writing for a living, and my dream has come true.