Huffpost Gay Voices
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robyn Harper Headshot

Can I Write for a Living? There's Only One Way to Find Out

Posted: Updated:

I was thrilled to be asked recently by Women Writers, Women Books about blogging on The Huffington Post. Aside from the obvious compliment, it also afforded me a welcome opportunity to recount my experience so far and remind myself of what I want to achieve. My writing journey has been short, but I'm only getting started. This is my account:

Sarah Bernhardt said, "Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich." What a lovely sentiment, I thought, but what exactly does it mean?

I read book after book. I made wish after wish. What's my purpose? Why am I here? Lost is a lonely place. Those thoughts collided with my 30th birthday. I was warned of this year! Things change. You'll change, I was told. It was true. It was like my perspective matured. I started to see what's really important, and particularly what's not important. If I didn't feel like an adult before, I do now. I have responsibilities, and I want to live up to them.

The last year has been so very pivotal. I'll never forget it. Highs, lows, and lessons in abundance. I can now feel my life starting to take shape. I'm beginning to understand what's meant by the word "passion." I've read about passion before. It's a powerful feeling. It makes you do things.

Work, shall we say, didn't work out too well. Though sad and frightening, I knew it was an opportunity. I knew it was my opportunity. I hadn't been overly happy there, anyway. I was settling, but in the back of my mind, I knew there had to be more to it, more to life. It was well-disguised, but it was certainly a blessing. I was left with a clean slate, a blank page. There was only one problem: The page was blank.

Another book read, another wish made. I came across some words that would resonate with me, and resonate deeply. They came from Patanjali, a very long time ago. He said:

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

That was my ticket. I thought, what contribution can I make? Is such potential really inside us all? I felt ready.

Facebook was quite instrumental in my awakening, if I can call it that. I had more time on my hands. Scanning the newsfeed seemed to pass some of that time. I started to notice a trend. I won't delve into too much detail, but I can sum it all up in one word: heartbreaking. Whether it was news reports, blogs, or articles, it was negative, it was sad, and there was far too much of it. I wasn't aware of the gravity of the struggles some of our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community face on a daily basis. Call it ignorance. Call it bliss.

I set about creating Gay Girl Revolution. I set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and got to work. Bad news has a tendency to get around by itself, so I don't need to pass it on. I want to promote positive aspects. I want to focus on and celebrate our strengths. After all, it is no weakness.

A couple of months passed. The bad news was still coming fast and strong. What really touched my core, what moved me to tears, was reading of so many LGBT teens and the difficulties they face in those defining years. I remember my teens. I remember them well. Coming out and coming to terms with who you are can be a very daunting task. I know because I did it. I'm years on now, and I love it. It felt like I was being reminded of how, since coming out, my sexual orientation really has played very little role in my life. I've loved and lost, just like everybody else. But it hasn't changed anything. I'm not disadvantaged.

I got to thinking: LGBT teenagers need to be shown the bigger picture. They need to know they're not alone. They need to know that it does get better. They need to be shown the future, especially their own. The penny was starting to drop. The clouds were breaking. I could see some light. Is that part of why I'm here? It feels like it.

I knew I could write. I never thought there was anything particularly special about my writing. My mother has always said there was, but she's biased! I never gave it any thought. I never saw myself as a writer. Not because I didn't think I could do it, but because it never occurred to me. It's amazing what you miss when you're not looking for anything.

So I wrote a letter. It was a letter to myself, to my 15-year-old self, a time when I was struggling. The letter was well-received. It wasn't necessarily supposed to be anything of note when I sat down to put pen to paper. I just wrote from my heart. I just wrote as it was. I underestimated its value. The reaction of some close friends hinted at its significance. I was told I had painted a picture of hope. I knew I had something, something special.

I made contact with The Huffington Post. "We would love to re-publish your letter," came the response. I found it very overwhelming. Not only was something I had written going to be published on a major website, but even more importantly, I couldn't think of anything but the hands it might get into, the good it might do.

I'm beginning to understand what Sarah Bernhardt meant. It's starting to makes sense. It's not about what you can get. It's about what you can give. This is part of my work now, but I don't call it work. That's not because I don't get paid for it. I don't call it work because I love it. As the song goes, money's too tight to mention, and it is, but that doesn't matter. That's the point. I'm rich right now, because I feel so alive! It is a wonderful world after all!

I'm new to the writing scene, and I haven't written very much yet. I'm excited about what lies ahead. I now see possibility where I used to see limitation. Everything changed, including me. I've changed from a reader to a writer. Find your passion and then act on it -- you already know what you're passionate about.

I'll draw to a close by echoing the words of a leader, somebody who had a dream, somebody who exuded passion, somebody who saw a better world: "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step" (Martin Luther King, Jr.).

For more by Robyn Harper, click here.