I’ve known I wanted be a writer since I was in fourth grade. That was the year my humanities teacher. Mrs. I. gave our class the assignment to write one short story every week for the entire year. I was hooked! I proclaimed to everyone who would listen that I was going to be a writer when I grew up.
At around the same time, my best friend decided she was going to be an actress when she grew up. In the years that followed, we spent countless hours talking about our adult lives – I would be a bestselling author and she would be a famous actress. And we would live next door to each other in matching side-by-side beach houses.
Right after I started high school, someone told me that I should decide on a “real career,” that I could always write on the side, but I should think about choosing a “real” profession. I heeded the advice and thought maybe I could be a doctor, so I took a human anatomy class in 11th grade. It was the hardest class I ever took, and I remember, even to this day, the trauma I felt the entire year at having to dissect a cat and take tests where we had to identify the pins in its organs. I did tons of extra credit by making “edible” models (including a brain out of Twizzlers) and managed to squeak by with a B-, but clearly I was not cut out for that line of work. Then I thought maybe I could be a health care administrator – why – I have no idea – but it sounded good at the time. I tortured myself by doubling up on the science classes and suffering through microbiology my senior year. Luckily, I had a nice lab partner who wasn’t as grossed out by the bacterial cultures as I was.
In my senior year of high school, I also had a really amazing AP English teacher, and I sort of snapped out of my healthcare fog and remembered what I really loved to do: read and write. I decided to major in English in college, and I reasoned my “real” job could be journalism. One semester on the college paper and one hideous summer internship of covering school board meetings and graduations later, I knew journalism wasn’t for me. And that’s when I decided to throw caution to the wind and just admit to myself and everyone else that I wanted to be a writer, a fiction writer, and that that was going to be my “real” career.
The interesting thing is that my best friend followed a similar path to me but eventually ended up going after what she always wanted, to be an actress. Check out her cool website about her one woman show about Amelia Earhart! Of course, we haven’t done everything we set out to – we don’t live in our matching side-by-side beach houses. Not yet, anyway!