While I may not be making full-time living from my writing (yet), I’ve been working my way towards becoming an actual professional writer. I write web content, articles, and social media posts for my job, which I’m blessed to be able to do.
But I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer, and so I’m plugging away at short stories and novels. When I was in college, and for many years after I graduated and had various jobs that didn’t relate at all to my English degree, I seriously contemplated a life and career path other than that of writer.
I have always had many varied interests, and so picking one thing to do as a “career” seems kind of confining. So why did I pick “writer” and decide to pursue that instead of some other career that might actually be feasible and might make me money?
In short, because I’m lazy. Now to be a career writer (of fiction, or anything else) takes talent, discipline, and lots of hard work. It’s not a career for the lazy. But I considered writing to be the easiest pursuit of all of my interests because…
I wanted to be a _____, but…
Scientist – specifically astronomer, astrophysicist, or geologist. I’ve always liked the inorganic things that are born and grow and are remade – like crystals and stars. I loved physics in high school, and took an astronomy class in college and came this close to switching my major. The only trouble is, physics requires a lot of math. And tedious graphs, calculations, and measuring. That all sounded like way too much work to be enjoyable. I’d much rather write about a physicist than be one.
Linguist – I love languages. The history, how languages influence and are influence by culture. The sounds, the patterns, the almost mathematical nature of languages. For career options, I could have worked as a translator (which sounded way too high pressure, not to mention the years of study to master a language so deeply). Or I could have gone the academic route, and lived in dusty libraries surrounded by tomes written in Latin or Old Norse. The second option sounded more appealing, but to find any meaningful work in that field, I’d probably need a Master’s degree or PhD. It’d be fun to be a doctor of linguists, but that would require an awful lot of study and work. Nah.
Musician – I love music as much as I love languages. Really, language, music, and science are all facets of the same gem – patterns built on patterns, predictable yet changing, fluid and growing yet not alive. I grew up in a musical home – my father is a musician, and my grandfather was a professor of musicology. When I was younger, I played both the piano and the oboe (neither particularly well, but I enjoyed it). To be a professional musician, though, I saw as too confining – I’d have to pick an instrument and/or style of music, master it, and stick with it for life. In today’s world of indie musicians and freelance creatives of all sorts (including my chosen love, writing), I probably could be making it as a musician if I’d decided to pursue that. But during my formative years, that option wasn’t available (yes, I’m that old). Playing one instrument in my local symphony didn’t sound appealing, so instead I write about music. I blog about music, and often the subject of music finds its way into my stories.
Travel blogger – I like traveling, and in recent years as I’ve launched into blogging and investigating freelance writing, I’ve learned about professional travel bloggers. A dream lifestyle, right? You get to travel around the world, live out of a suitcase wherever you want to, see cool things and eat exotic foods, and write about it on your blog. What’s not to love? Well, like being a full-time writer, being a full-time travel blogger is not for the faint of heart. Keeping your website monetized and highly trafficked is your main concern (because that’s where the money comes from). One of these days I’ll get around to monetizing my blog (maybe), but in the meantime, that’s just more work than I want to do. Plus, as much as I like to travel, I’m actually a homebody. I’d love to take two or three trips a year for a couple of weeks each, and then come back home. Traveling 52 weeks a year and not having a home base to return to sounds a little too exhausting for me.
So there were my career options, and why I’ve decided not to pursue any of them (at least, not as full-time careers). I can still geek out about science stuff (and write sci-fi), write about music and even compose some songs, learn basic conversational skills in various languages (and invent my own languages), and travel when I want to. And write about it all.
Science, language, music, and far-off places all work their way into my stories. Writing is probably not any easier than any of these other things (especially not if I actually want to make good money doing it). But for now, I’m going to stick with it and see where it takes me.