I didn’t always want to be a writer.
And I’ve come to realize that’s okay.
I began college as an Aerospace Engineering student. I’d watched Top Gun a hundred-plus times and wanted to be Kelly McGillis. I loved planes. They fascinated me. I skipped class to go (with a guy) see the space shuttle land at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. I skipped class to go see the SR-71 at the Pima Air Museum. I also skipped class to ride (with a different guy) in an Aston Martin to get Dunkin’ Donuts.
And it was always Math and Physics I skipped. I should’ve known then that my passion was words.
But alas, I’m truly fascinated by all kinds of things. So after two years of Engineering, I found another love in the world of Biochemistry and received a Bachelor’s in that field and worked in a plant sciences lab. I loved it. I think I could’ve loved a lot of things. And then during a terrible pregnancy, I had to quit. After many complications and several months of recovery, I started my own company bidding and installing signs for new construction. I loved that, too, because it let me be at home with my kids and have a way to earn money. After two more children within three years, I ended that business to focus on my kids.
And I loved it. Every minute? No. But really, my kids fascinated me. They were like little science experiments, creations, and I’d never felt so lucky or blessed to be a part of something so remarkable as being a mother. Some people have told me I missed my calling in life because I spent my best years on my kids. They can think that. I certainly don’t regret it one bit.
But all of that life experience gave me ideas. Experience is the best thing for creativity and emotional resonance. If you’ve never been through things, it’s nearly impossible to write about it.
I was doing things worth writing as well as all the mundane chores that go along with life. Occasionally, I’ve felt behind when I hear about people who have been writing novels since they were in middle school or high school and end up published in their twenties. While being truly happy for them, I also used to feel like I was somehow not as good because I didn’t begin writing until later in life.
Yes, I won an Arizona State poetry contest when I was in second grade. But it didn’t stick.
Maybe I won’t ever be as good as those writers. Maybe I will. In reality, this is my journey, and the only person who can allow me to be upset by it is myself.
The problem is comparison.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Ever. Just don’t. As many books as there are in the world, there are even more writing journeys. Your journey is never wrong. It might be complicated. It might take you somewhere you didn’t plan. But every step will teach you something if you let it, which will only make you that much more prepared for the future.
I’d love to hear what your day job is and if you love it as much as writing.
I stood at the kitchen sink, washing dishes, and stared at a wall. The brownish red of the brick and dirt that covered my backyard created the backdrop of a wasteland, the occasional tumbleweed or dry grass breaking up the soil. Over the years, I stared at other backyards or back-splashes day after day. Vacuuming, mopping, pulling weeds, folding clothes, I only vaguely saw it all through the fantasy worlds playing out in my imagination.
Snow White sang, but my voice scares away the animals (including my children). So the only way I survived being a full-time mother of three was escaping into the worlds I created in my head.
I loved my kids more than I can express with words, and they’re brilliant and funny and wonderful. But spending 24/7 with children and cleaning and gardening and cleaning some more–it’s not a recipe for intrigue. And that’s what I craved. I wanted to travel the world, taste foods I’d never heard of, see animals outside a zoo with amazing abilities too strange to imagine, learn about ancient cultures from their ruins.
But diapers had to be changed. The little people needed read to and taught and bathed and occasionally rescued from one another.
So I told myself stories and created worlds of my own that were every bit as fascinating to me as the real world I couldn’t get to. And that’s how I became a writer.
How did you become a writer? I’d love to hear your story!