What do you want to be when you grow up?

My nephew wants to be an ice road trucker. Even knowing his opinion on what he wants to do when he grows up will probably change tens if not hundreds of times between now and his first paycheck, I envy his surety. I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

the path

I have a vocation; I’ve been in the technical side of software for over a decade. I meant to stay just long enough to help pad whatever grad school stipend I could get, hoping the extra cash would help me avoid scurvy from living off of ramen. A decade later and I’m rather entrenched, less concerned with scurvy, and more certain than ever that I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.

I have an avocation. I am a writer. Most writers say they’ve known forever that’s what they want to be. They regale with their early memories of writing and their invariable, precocious ability to read at the tender age of three. I don’t remember wanting to be a writer at all. No, I wanted to be a veterinarian, a nutritionist, an etymologist, a historic preservationist, a violinist, or Sherlock Holmes. I spent my time reading and playing make believe, not penning verse. I can’t go so far as to deny the extant examples of my juvenilia that are full of talking horses in tragic situations, nor the journals filled with illegible, elementary school scrawl, but writing wasn’t my raison d’être. I really wasn’t an early reader, either. I was six. The triumph and sheer drunken joy of that experience has yet to be replicated.

I’ve witnessed others bridge the gap between vocation and avocation. To be honest, I’m not sure what my life would ‘look like’ if I were able to sustain myself with full time writing. As much as I grumble about work, there is value in the human interaction and macrabe humor in the outright bizarre things that happen in the workplace. I like my team, even the ones that drive me a little nuts. And just that quickly, we’re back to the fact I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

What I do know is that I have an impending book launch. I have a variety of ideas for marketing online, but would also love to host an author meet and greet at my favorite cupcake shop (happy horror writer and cupcakes, what could be more perfect?). I have a book cover to reveal, a trailer to share, and a draft covered in proof marks I need to update and get to my formatter.

What I do know is that I have another novel that wants to be written. It has been in my mind, restless, for almost a year. I want to finish the first draft in four months, because I want to try produce a book a year.

What I do know is that I have some tough and exciting work ahead of me. I will need to be my own strict taskmaster. I will need to balance marketing, writing, working, maintaining healthy relationships with both humans and dogs, reading books because there’s no life without literature, exercising, sleeping, and possibly even occasionally stopping to just enjoy the wonder of being alive. I will need to be clear in my intent and honest with myself about who it is I want to be. Because although I don’t know what I want to do, I know who I want to be.

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3 thoughts on “What do you want to be when you grow up?

  1. Great post, although I have no difficulty imagining life as a full-time writer. Of course, with a toddler and another little one on the way, I’m not sure I’d even be a full-time writer even if I were home full-time :)

    And hey, I wanted to be a veterinarian, too! Read James Herriot and various other veterinarian books. Then I found out that I would have to sometimes put animals to sleep. Just couldn’t do it. (And as I got older, long after dismissing that idea, I found out how hard it is to get into veterinary school. Yikes.)

    Hope all is well for you. Happy almost New Year.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    • A toddler and another one on the way – congrats to you and Mrs. Paul!!!! That’s wonderful! Have you written any posts about how you balance writing with fatherhood, or the effect being a father has had upon your writing? I have no plans to have children, but I bet 99% of writers either have or will have them and would benefit from reading your thoughts on the topic.

      James Herriot, there’s a blast from my wannabe-veterinarian past! I think I discovered that animals get sick and that despite their cuddly exteriors, they are full of icky blood and guts. At one point much more recently, I considered training to be a nurse. Mr. Aniko pointed out that I cringe watching someone get a shot in a television show. Even the Star Trek hypospray makes me uncomfortable! So… probably not going to be an RN anytime soon, although I think it’s a worthy and useful profession.

      Happy New Year, Paul!

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