When I grow up

crayons

A little blonde haired girl sits on a grey rug, surrounded by scattered crayons and one subject notebooks, the kind with the map of Canada on the front. Clutching a pencil, she’s drawing ugly unicorns and naming them after the words on her favourite crayons, the sparkly ones. She gives them a history, knows which ones like each other, which ones are good and which are bad. She sits like this for hours, imagining.

When she learns to read music, from a Pocahontas themed recorder book, she pretends that D is the bad guy, that G is protecting A and C from D, and B is unpredictable. In math, odd and even numbers have different characters. On long car rides, she writes songs about rose gardens in her head (and sometimes outloud). She plays elaborate make believe games with her friends, spends Saturdays racing through the park as Sailor Moon or some character of her own creation.

I meet a lot of people in archaeology who talk about spending their childhoods digging in sandboxes and watching Indiana Jones. They always knew that they wanted to be an archaeologist, this is their dream come true. And it makes me stop and think. I wasn’t dreaming of arrowheads and potsherds, digging up my parents backyard.

I was writing and telling stories. Always. For as long as I can remember, writing has been an enormous part of my life. From the role playing games and fanfiction that introduced me to my best friend to the years of emo poems (not all bad) that I wrote in high school. In school, I was always pretty sure I would get a good grade if it involved writing. Because I’ve been doing it since I learned how. I have so much practice of fitting words together, of expressing my ideas. And I love it. Even now, as my fingers glide over the keyboard and try desperately to keep up with my train of thought, the thrill of being able to say what I want fills me with a sense of completion.

Writing, for me, is like breathing. Absolutely necessary. I wake up in the middle of the night to write down sentences and words that are spinning through my head. I can’t sleep for the story I’m creating as I lie awake.

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But I tend to forget that. I always say that my dream is to someday write books. But I never let myself fully pursue that dream. I always say that I’ll do it in my spare time, as I’m doing another, preferably well paying, job.

When I went into journalism, I thought I had found the best of both worlds. I would get to write, but I would also satisfy my need for stability, for a “career path” or a Plan. But journalism, while arguably it is writing and telling stories, simply sucked the fun out of writing for me. It’s more of a formula than an art. When I decided to do a Master’s, I went towards my other love, history, and chose archaeology. A more pratical approach that would hopefully lead me to a career in museums.

None of these paths I have chosen have been perfect for me. All because I don’t have the courage to pursue my true passion - to actually become a writer. To live as a writer. To open myself up to the possibility that I may fail and that I may have to live a less predictable life. I don’t know if I have it in me to be that person.

But as I start to discover more and more about who I truly am, about what I want in my life, it’s becoming obvious that I should have taken the path I chose from the very start. That what I really want to do is write.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with this new found revelation quite yet. I still have an MA to finish and debts to pay off. But I’m starting to think about my future and ways of keeping writing in my life, of someday being able to call myself a writer by profession. Right now I’m thinking that after this MA, I will work for a few years and then possible do an MFA in Creative Writing. I think it would be amazing. To finally be in an environment where I am constantly thinking about my writing, about being inspired.

And until then, I’ll continue writing on my own, because that’s what I’ve always done and always will do.

3 Comments

  • By Eleni, November 13, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

    I had some Barbies growing up, but I really didn’t need them because anything–a jump-rope, a feather fan, a “finger crocheted” bit of pink yard–could become the fantastical players in my imagined little world.

    I was always best at science and math, rather than writing. Writing is fun, but it just never came out as well for me as I wanted it to, both in ideas and the sound of the words. Writing was always my older brother’s talent, one that I envied him for. Now he’s in L.A. trying to get a job writing for T.V. It’s a tough market, but at least he’s sure it’s what he wants to do. I’m not sure I could say the same thing about myself.

  • By Faebala, November 14, 2009 @ 1:34 am

    Maybe we can go together for Creative Writing, once you finish up this program and I eventually get through school for Illustration, hopefully.

  • By Faebala, November 14, 2009 @ 1:36 am

    P.S. I still stand for the fact that we should’ve been friends as kids, because I also used to do all of the above (except I was also digging up artifacts in my parents backyard), especially the part where I was writing songs in my head and sometimes out loud. I Stopped doing it out loud when I somehow forgot bathroom walls aren’t sound proof, and I was singing about “my life” to the bathroom mirror around age 6 - and my siblings were outside, snickering. And made fun of me to no end. :P So I stopped singing my own songs out loud after that.

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