Becoming a writer
When I was three, I wanted to grow up to be a princess, a ballerina, or an ice-skater - in no particular order. Yes, any of those destinies would have done nicely. Too bad there were no eligible princes around to marry. And things began to look grim when my mother refused to enrol me in ballet. When I kept falling on my butt at the skating rink, I knew I had to come up with another career path.
My grade-six class had a suggestion for me - but not one I particularly liked. When my eleven year old peers voted me “most likely to become the next Margaret Laurence” I laughed and quickly dismissed the idea. Me, a writer? No way! My father had written several books by that time and they all knew it. It was clearly the only reason they’d pushed that title on me.
As the years passed, I cringed whenever anyone asked me “what I wanted to be when I grew up” and tried to think up a good answer. For a while, I considered becoming an anthropologist so I could travel to exotic corners of the earth and study remote societies. That is, until my first year of university when I received a D in Anthro 101 and promptly dropped that dream.
After that, I shifted my thoughts to the notion of some kind of career using all the French I’d been immersed in since kindergarten. But although my spoken French was great, my written French was atrocious. Every essay came back slashed up in red pen. Another dream bit the dust.
English Literature became my major by default and I quickly fell head over heels in love with Shakespeare, the Romantics and poetry of any kind. With reading lists longer than my arm and essay assignments coming out my ears, it was at this time that I really began to hone my writing skills. Every year at exam time, my science geek roommates laughed at me. You call that studying? they’d scoff, as I lay curled up in bed with a 19th century romance. But it’s Mary Shelley, I’d reply as they donned their lab glasses and plodded back to their textbooks and experiments. I knew they were secretly envious.
After graduating from university, I worked with my father for a while in the financial industry. But I figured out pretty quickly that working with money and mutual funds was not for me. So in my mid-twenties, I sat down and tried to figure out my next move. Now that I was finally grown-up, what did I want to be? The answer came almost immediately. And in the end, there was really only one choice. I had to write. And so I did. And, after years of practice and learning and fine-tuning my ‘voice’, here I am.
Wow! In hindsight, my eleven year old classmates were way smarter and far more intuitive than I’d given them credit for.
But then, kids usually are…aren’t they?