I learned to read at a very early age, and I’ve been a word lover ever since. In my burgeoning logophilia I would, with great fervor, read Dr. Seuss books–Green Eggs ‘n Ham was my favorite–aloud to my father. And we’d have spelling bees in the car sometimes: ‘Anthology’ was my favorite word to spell; ‘Massachusetts’ the word I kept getting wrong. I amassed a large collection of books, devouring everything I could get my hands on so long as it wasn’t boring. Some kids dragged blankies from place to place, but I carried a book pretty much everywhere I went, a trend I still continue today on occasion (one reason I carry large handbags).
If that wasn’t nerdy enough, I’d often sit at the dining room table and I’d read the encyclopedia as I ate my food. Other times I’d read my brother’s Calvin & Hobbes books while eating, a fact that I hope regains some of the coolness points I lost when I mentioned encyclopedias. The bottom line is that I had my head stuck in a book pretty much every day, which was fun in and of itself but also well-suited to my introversion and shyness. Reading gave me such joy, probably more than anything else did growing up.
My writing came a bit later. I was reading all these stories and I decided that I wanted to start creating my own. They weren’t very good, of course, and endings were always hard for me (they still are, actually), but I had fun making up tales. I decided in high school that I wanted to be a writer, but that I would write only on the side–just for fun. I was going to become an amazing, life-changing English teacher (the kind they made movies and Oprah episodes about) and then I’d publish a bit here and there. Despite the judgment I received for not going into a STEM field, I declared a major in English Language & Literature, with a minor in philosophy (just ’cause it’s so fascinating) and headed out into the field of education to start what I was sure would be a decades-long career exploring the canon of William Shakespeare (fun fact: he and I share a birthday).
Like so many other things in life, stuff didn’t go according to plan.
I did become an English teacher (as well as an Algebra and French teacher; I really, really love math and foreign languages too) but I realized that pedagogy was not for me. I even went to graduate school and then came back to try teaching again in a different environment, but I still couldn’t stick with it. I taught for a little while but I concluded that I had the heart for it, but not the stomach. I still worked and volunteered on occasion as a tutor, and I helped launch a blog, Lolly’s Classroom, where teachers could write about children’s books; education was still important to me. Unfortunately, however, I had to leave the classroom.
So, I was back to square one. I took some odd jobs here and there, trying to figure out my proper place. Eventually I ended up at a 9-5 office job and I was pretty miserable; I liked my colleagues a lot but the work itself was suffocating. I always had a passion for the written word that had never waned. But I would always dismiss it as just a hobby, not something that I would pursue full time. Then a couple years ago, I got tired of going from job to job to job only to leave dissatisfied and unfulfilled. I decided to take the plunge and follow my heart (a very Millennial thing to do, yes, but I refuse to feel bad about it). Working with words was what I really wanted to do. Words, I reasoned, have been consistent in my life. I have many goals and many interests, and I identify strongly with Emilie Wapnick’s idea of a “multipotentialite”, but words are still number one on my list and will likely always be.
…Which leads me to where I am now. A freelancer’s life can be difficult and demoralizing–especially for a sensitive soul like me. But I’m not giving up, at least not yet. I’ve worked with an art museum, I worked with a local press. I sent some of my writing out, reached out to some websites to see if I could help with copy, I applied to this and to that. Some things have worked out, others haven’t. But I’m still here, and I’m determined. My main responsibilities right now are as editor for the online literary magazine Pif, as a grant writer for the non-profit organization Our Golden Hour, and as a research assistant on a linguistics project. I’m very excited to begin working with Sundress Publications so I can fill my life with even more words.
Danielle Hayden is a freelance writer and editor who grew up in Detroit and now lives in Seattle. Included among all the things she loves are: learning, books, watching films, making lists, and collecting great quotes–sometimes as tattoos. She reads about everything, and writes about almost as much. Danielle is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and of the Oxford comma.