I am almost 38. I am a writer, I have been all my life, but when I was young I turned away from it.
When you are young, every adult seems to have an opinion on what you should do with your life: parents, teachers, counsellors, school administrators, mentors, family friends, older siblings, younger siblings, aunts, uncles, your next door neighbor and your mother's best friend's hair dresser.
When you are young, and have dreams of being a writer, these people will often be encouraging but discouraging at the same time. They will appreciate your creativity, they will pat you on the back and praise your work, but inevitably there will be surreptitious remarks, reminding you that writing is not a "career" choice: Writers don't make money. Getting published is hard. Don't expect to be the next J.K. Rowling.
As a young writer I struggled to survive all this input from the adults around me. In the end I failed; the writer in me laid down her pen, closed her eyes and gave up the fight.
Now that I have grown up, I realize a few things. When it comes to choosing what to do with your life adults may offer valuable suggestions and guidance, but it's your life not theirs. They are right that getting published is hard, and you won't start writing and immediately earn a living. But they are not right to make you choose between being a writer and having a career. If you work hard, focus, and make an effort, to learn and improve your writing skills, you can make writing a career. And, if you simply want to write for the love of it, you don't have to do it at the expense of any career.
Being a writer and writing as a career are actually two different things. When you say you want to "be" something, adults think you are talking about your career. Sometimes adults sometimes lose themselves in their careers. Careers define who they are so much that the first question adults ask when they first meet is: "what do you do for a living?"
But, now that I am getting back to my writing, I don't think of it as a career, I think of it as who I am; it's a part of my soul. I can earn a living in lots of different ways, but being a writer is being me. If I could go back tell my younger self one thing I would say: you don't need to change who you are because adults tell you that writing is a difficult career path.
Whether you want to make writing your career or just do it because you love it, remember that deciding who you are is your choice. Stay on your path and don't lose yourself.
©2012 Amanda June Hagarty.
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