A fireman. A princess. A football player. A surgeon. President. The answers you get vary, especially depending on the age of the kid you’re asking. Most of us change our imagined futures time after time as we grow older. But for as long as I can remember (which admittedly isn’t that far past third grade) my answer was a writer.
But, unfortunately, unless you’re JK Rowling or Clive Cussler, you can’t make a living in books alone. Just imagine, for a moment, that you did make it through the gauntlet of publishing. Go to your local library and have a look around. How many of these books have you never read, never even heard of? Many authors publish their book only to see it sit, forlorn and forgotten, on a dusty bookshelf. Hanging their heads, they go back to being a waitress or an accountant, their brilliant great American novel dying a slow and quiet death next to the space that Eclipse would occupy if it would ever stop being checked out.
I’m a practical person, and I know there’s very little likelihood of me making a living on books and stories alone. Which leaves me with the problem: what else should I do? I envy those who only have to make one career choice and are set for life. While striving to answer this question, I have had a host of different answers, almost all discarded. Teacher. Environmentalist. Lawyer. Editor. Journalist. Human rights lawyer. As college approaches, and I need to figure out where to go, what to major in, what kind of jobs to look for… I’ve begun to panic. Why on earth are we called upon to make some of the most important decisions in our lives at the point in our lives when we’re least capable of making decisions? I wouldn’t trust a fellow teenager (except for a few notable exceptions) to take care of my pets, let alone choose my life’s course. And yet that’s what we’re called to do, and generation after generation, most of us survive. The ones who don’t end up working at McDonald’s or marrying young, but let’s not dwell on that.
But if anyone asks me what I’m going to do when I grow up, I still have no good answer.