The other type knows maybe what they want, which may or may not be sensible and/or achievable, and comes up with wild, perhaps unrealistic, ways to achieve those dreams. That’s probably me.
When I was a kid, I read a lot, played with the farm cats a lot, and I had the obnoxious tendency to correct other people’s grammar. But I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer.
That’s not entirely accurate. I wanted to be a writer and Wonder Woman. But when I found out that the job of Wonder Woman was already taken by Lynda Carter, I settled for just writer. So how did I decide to go about attaining that goal? Let’s take a look:
Idea #1: Move to an isolated island where I can write all day.
Hahahaha! The naiveté dripping off of that sentence still cracks me up. After college, I moved to Block Island in an effort to be one of those reclusive writers that sits on the beach all day and writes about the waves and crap. Did it work? Ha! Here’s the thing: it is expensive to live on a resort island year-round. Bills need to be paid. I indulged my dreams of writing by churning out a weekly column for the local paper, but I worked full time for the town, took on bookkeeping jobs to keep the lights on, and was surprised when the publisher of the newspaper asked me if I’d moonlight as a proofreader. Hmm. That obnoxious “let me correct your grammar” thing had gotten me a side job. But none of these things really gave me time to write. It was time to move back to the mainland.
Idea #2: Open a bookstore so I can read and write all day.
Sounds perfect, right? In an era where independent and chain bookstores were failing every day, why not open a bookstore? I loved it. And I hated it. I was writing sporadically, reading even less, and I was doing things like reconciling accounts payable and receivable, doing taxes, and talking to customers all day. And, of course, correcting their grammar in my head. The business, and my writing, suffered.
Idea #3: Get a day job I like and am good at to support my writing habit.
Those sensible people of the world with realistic goals might be on to something. I’d worked in human resources in the past, but although I was good at it, I didn’t enjoy it. So what to do? What was I qualified to do that I could stand doing? And then one little line jumped out at me on my résumé--Proofreader, The Block Island Times.
Could I parlay that into a job I liked? Was it possible that someone would actually pay me to correct their grammar? The answer, I am happy to report, is yes.
To all of you aspiring authors out there, I recommend this: Sure, you can try the crazy stuff, like moving to an island or opening a bookstore. But if you want to write, find a day job you love. Mostly because it makes it a lot easier at night when you sit down at your computer if the power is still on, plus, you won’t be ready to jump off a bridge due to said day job. Maybe that job is in customer service, because you like people. Maybe it’s as a medical billing specialist, because you don’t like people. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you can take one of your most obnoxious personality quirks and turn it into a paycheck. Because I can tell you this: I am a writer and I am a copy editor. No matter if I’m working as one or the other, I love what I’m doing. And sometimes, I even wear my Wonder Woman tiara while doing it.