A doctor, dentist, scientist, wife? When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be any of those things. At 12 or so I dabbled with the oboe, the violin and then learned to play the drums; and so ended my musical aspirations when I realized I couldn’t play any of them. Having already been told I owned a voice like a foghorn, a singing career was out, too.
Not much appealed to me at the time, except the more solitary pursuits, where I could be left alone and enjoy my own company, like a driving instructor or a long haul driver. I don’t remember ever having much career counseling or coaching, other than to be advised I might want to consider a career on the police force. Something about attitude. What attitude? Personally, I think the careers counsellor didn’t know what to do with me and looked for a cop-out (geddit?) Never mind. A comedienne wasn’t in my future either.
I drifted into retail, then real estate, followed by many years in finance. I enjoyed it (except the retail), but it still left a gap. Eight years ago, I took a refresher college class in English and met a professor who liked what I wrote. He thought it might be good enough to publish. I enjoyed writing as a kid, but the idea of the general public reading my work was terrifying. What if I sucked? If my writing talents turned out to be as lame as my singing or my effort on the drums, I’d be humiliated.
A few more years drifted by, while I stewed. Then I read a Sidney Sheldon mystery, Master Of The Game, and I remembered my professor. His words propelled me to finally give it a go. I started my manuscript for Madness and Murder, stuck with it, and finished it in 11 months. In 2009, after numerous rounds of editing, it was accepted by Echelon Press, and published a year later.
I learned a few things along the way. It’s okay to be afraid, to try lots of different things, and it’s never too late to start something new. It’s also okay to fail. It’s not okay to not have a go.
If not for the supportive words from my English professor, I might never have tried to do what I discovered I love. Two more books and a short story have followed, and more are in the works. As more books come out, it’s difficult to juggle writing with a full-time job so I decided to take a leave of absence from the world of finance to give my writing career a shot. This is my first week and this is my chance.
It’s daunting, competitive, difficult, and exhilarating. I have no boss, but I work longer hours than ever before. I do all my own marketing, speak at festivals and book events, face criticism and harsh words from those who don’t like what I write (I know I won’t please everyone). I get less exercise and I often forget to eat. It’s a risk, I may not succeed, but I LOVE what I do and I’m thankful for this opportunity to do it.
We may not always be able to do what we love, but sometimes the only thing holding us back is ourselves. I hope you are loving what you do.