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How I Became a Writer

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There is a challenge going on in one of the groups I skim, and there are prompts. Prompts are helpful because they give me something to write about. So, while I'm not 100% committed to that challenge, I may take advantage of the prompts.

The prompt was: "How did you become a writer?" and Gabriela, who runs the site, offered her "zero moment". But, for me, life doesn't work that way. I don't have "a moment" in which I "knew" I was "destined" to be a writer. And I find that life rarely works that way. Sure, some people know at age nine or ten what they want to be when they grow up, and they start working towards that career and keep it up all through high school and university and end up exactly where they planned to. I'm not one of those people, and I actually don't think this is the most likely scenario. What I think is a more likely scenario is that you just kind of stumble into stuff. You do something and get good feedback for it, and then you build momentum. Or you're unhappy with the place you are in currently, and you find the courage to make a change.

Here's what happened to me. When I was nine or ten, all I really wanted to do was read. I also played some music, and I liked that a lot. But I mostly read stories and then made up more stories about the characters in the books I read. And I would tell some of the stories to my family. I would usually get a reaction that included the sentence "grow up and stop making up stories". Mostly because some of the stories I told were flat out lies, and my parents (understandably) were trying to teach me that lying is not great.

When I was in middle school, I had a teacher who encouraged me to write stories. I did write some. She was my English teacher, and so I wrote the stories in English. She corrected my English. We didn't really have a school newspaper or anything like that, but I was writing stories and sometimes I told my parents about them. They would say something like, "that's a nice hobby" because they were worried about me making a living. I wasn't much into science those days, and we had a psychology program, so I did that. It was interesting, so I did that as my major in university. Then I did my MA and discovered I love research, so I did my PhD.

At some point, I had an idea for a story. I ignored it because I was a serious scientist now, not someone who makes up stories. The idea wouldn't go away, but I kept ignoring it. That went on for a couple of years. Then, when I finished my PhD, and I had no more excuses not to write the story anymore, I decided to give it a go, but I wasn't ready to make the switch yet. I took a writing course, but I dropped out half-way through because I didn't feel like it was going anywhere. I didn't feel like I had time to write, because I was a serious scientist.

Then my dad died. And it made the fact that life is short abundantly clear. So I started writing seriously, and it took me over a year, but I finished the first draft of the book. And started the first draft of the second book. And started working on short stories. And started accepting that it's ok to be a writer, even if it isn't an "actual job". And started enjoying writing like I did when I was a child imagining stories.

Am I a writer yet? I don't know. I write stuff. I enjoy writing. I would like to publish my writing at some point, not because I think I'll be the next J. K. Rowling, but because I know that if it's published, it may reach more people. If it reaches more people, it may touch someone who needs it just then, and maybe that person feels like they're not alone. Was I destined to be a writer? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe I'm just stumbling through a phase, and once I got all the stories I have to tell out, then I'll stop writing and go do something else. I'm not one of those people who knows their destiny when they are children. And that's ok.


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