Standing in the professor’s office, surrounded by dusty books, she looked at me and asked: “What do you want to do after you graduate?”
I matched her gaze and told her I wanted to write short stories for a living.
Without missing a beat she said, “You can’t do that.”
And me, feeling the truth, looked down and whispered, “I know.”
I wanted to be a writer.
In May of 2000, I graduated from The College of New Rochelle with a bachelor of arts degree in Communication Arts. I had absolutely no plan or direction for my life after graduation.
To be honest, I didn’t even try. I didn’t apply for any jobs and I hadn’t put any effort into looking at grad schools. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was to write stories. I’d been doing it since I was twelve but I was convinced, and my professor solidified it for me, I could never make a living creating fictional worlds for others to enjoy.
That was something for someone who was prepared to live in poverty or had a rich spouse to take care of things while they joyfully tapped on a keyboard all day.
At least that is what I believed because when I was growing up–Ha! I never thought I’d use those words–the internet was in its infancy. If you wanted to write stories, you had to submit by mailing them with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and wait until you were ordained worthy by an editor in order to get published anywhere.
Thankfully, in the last few years, all that has dramatically changed. To my utter delight.
Wait! You mean I can make a living as a writer?
Since that day in my professor’s office, I never thought of writing creatively again. Instead I focused on journalism and other non-fiction writing, my dream career of being a short story writer buried and forgotten.
All that changed when I visited JA Konrath’s blog, to see what books he had coming out next, and realized he’s been documenting his journey from traditional to self publishing for over ten years. It’s his full-time career.
He’s actually make a stellar living writing books and short stories. From his website, I learned about other writers doing the same thing.
Stumbling on his digital home and coming to the realization that I actually can achieve my dream career is what catapulted me to return to writing regularly.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Maybe what you have always wanted to be, someone told you that you can’t. And maybe at the time, you really couldn’t see a way. Now that you look back at that idea, can you see, with new technology or your experience, how you can actually do this thing?
If last week, when I asked you what do you want to do when you grow up and you thought back to an idea you had but didn’t actually let it flourish, it might be time to dust that off and take a fresh look at it. Do you still want to do it?