People always seem to ask the inevitable question – did you always know you wanted to be a writer? I suppose it perpetually comes up because we all know that person or group of people who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. The firefighter, the policeman, the dancer, the statesman – each one always seems to begin his or her career choice when they are barely out of diapers. The future entrepreneur can outsell any other child in their 5th grade class when it comes time to hock whatever cookies, candy, or fruit boxes the band is selling that year. The future extreme sportsman continuously breaks the record for number of trips to the emergency room within every little league or T-ball season. You know what I mean. So naturally, a future writer always knows they are going to be a writer, right?
I dare to say, perhaps not always. You see, I wasn’t supposed to be a writer. I was the brainiac. The one who loved science and math and made all of the other kids’ eyes roll when I declared that differential equations were the best thing since sliced bread. I was going to be a scientist or a teacher or any of a number of things that fit into my neat little world. I loved to read though, and when time would allow (and often when it did not), I read voraciously, as though some dark force would at any moment come and take my precious books away. But I was never a writer. All you had to do was ask me. I might laugh or give a quizzical look like you had asked me something in a language I didn’t speak, but I would never admit my dirty little secret.
Like a back alley junkie looking for his next score, I searched for any and every opportunity to write. No napkin, post-it, or gum wrapper was safe from my wild ideas. One entire page of my first book was reconstructed from scraps of paper found at the bottom of my pocket and old wrappers that were dug out from underneath my parents’ car seat. You don’t even want to know what I used for a pencil when I could not find something resembling a pen. I couldn’t help myself. When I least expected it, ideas for far off and not so far off lands would come swirling through my head. It didn’t matter whether I was standing in line at the post office or playing outside with my friends. The unbidden thoughts assaulted me so that my only respite would come when I finally was able to put pen to paper.
As I got older, I realized my obsession was really a passion, and so I began to legitimize my calling. I bought notebooks to write my ideas in and tucked them wherever I thought I might suffer an attack of inspiration. When computers became all the rage (and I was able to afford one), I even made room for my odd little notions, all the while denying that I could ever wear the mantle of ‘writer’. Then one day, it hit me…..I have been a writer my entire life. I just never knew it. Not unlike the future entrepreneur or extreme sportsman, almost from the time I could talk, I was testing the waters of my passions and setting my sights on a future I never could have imagined, and now, I can say without hesitation….I want to be a writer when I grow up.