Monday, April 7, 2014

Career Choices

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t know if this is a question I can personally answer. I've always written, for as long as I can remember. And telling stories and creating imaginary worlds was very much encouraged throughout my childhood.

I was probably in primary school when I first noticed that not everyone played the way that my sister and I did. We planned out stories for our dolls to act out. And then we wrote them down. In chapters. Meandering, cringe-worthy chapters that we stapled together to make books. Terrible, cringe-worthy books. But the seed was there: I wanted to make books. For real.

Did everyone else have those career charts at schools? Like concentric coloured circles, with some subject you were good at in the middle, and a whole ripple effect of careers that you could do with that. Like the maths might go to mathematician (obviously), to maths teacher (slightly less obviously) to military fighter pilot (an example only. As if I ever had cause to study the maths poster).

I remember checking out the English poster, and the History poster, and thinking, “But I don’t want to be a teacher. Or an actor. Or a social worker.”

But, funnily enough, I don’t remember “writer” or “author” being on the list back when I was at school. Maybe that’s because nobody in the Education department could, in good conscience, recommend a career choice that, for most people, pays les than welfare. Because check it out, this updated poster is totally talking it up:

Maybe I just didn’t want to see “writer” on the list back then, as though I was afraid it would jinx me. Whatever the case, somehow I put that childhood dream of making real books on hold. I told myself that writing was a hobby. Just like reading, but nobody judges you for reading. 

I mean, I couldn’t fail to be a published author if I never tried, right? I wasted a lot of years thinking that.

But the writing bug – by which I mean the absolute compulsion to write, the pure need to do it – isn’t something that goes away. So I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. And even if nobody could figure out why I was still doing it, I kept going.

Publishing is a decision we make. It’s a goal we decide to aim for.

But writing. Writing is necessary.

I’ve think I’ve always been a writer. How about you?


  1. We never had any such posters. Just the one with the kitten on the limb that says, "Hang in there." : p

    You're definitely a writer, and congrats on knowing to follow that path. Also, please post one of those books you wrote with your sister!

    1. I think the Barbie Saga has been ceremoniously burned. And deservedly so. But it was fun while it lasted!

  2. Nope. I didn't want to be a writer when I was a kid. I wanted to be an artist. I was good at drawing and painting and drinking black coffee, so OBVIOUSLY - an artist. I went to college AND grad school with paint splattered shoes and then...and then...I discovered that being an artist is not what I wanted to do. All my art, by the way, in grad school was centered around the idea of narrative - and giving the narrative power to the viewer. Still, took me YEARS to figure out what I really wanted to do. Write. I still paint and draw. It's fun. But I always come back to words.

    1. I am so jealous of anyone with artistic talent! How scary and wonderful though to discover that you wanted to create something in an entirely different way. And at least you can do your own cover art!



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