Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writing: Real job or Imaginary?

Saying you always wanted to be a writer seems like it’s synonomous with actually being a writer.  I can probably count on one hand how many people I know who are writers who kinda fell into it, instead of it being a passion from an early age.

For me, I honestly don’t know when I had that magical that’s-what-I want-to-be-when-I grow-up moment, but it was pretty young.  I always enjoyed the times in school where we were allowed to make up stories and write them down.  I even think my parents still have the books, plays, and poems. But it wasn’t until sixth grade, when my teacher loved a story I’d written for an assignment so much that she entered it into a contest and it won that I even thought about it being a profession.

I’ll always remember this teacher, unfortunately I can’t remember her name, because not only did she take the time to send that short story off to that contest, but then she took time after school to help me write better.  She encouraged me in a way no teacher—or person--had before or since. 

She even helped me write a letter to Jonathan Brandis asking if he’d let me do an autogiography on him!  Of course, I never got a reply back, but the fact that as silly as that was, she didn’t laugh and researched on her own time, what to write and who to contact to see if some silly little starry eyed redheaded 6th grader could become his biographer is something I’ll never forget and I’ll always be grateful for.

But my parents were insistent that I focused on getting a “real” job. That is was okay to write as a hobby, but being a writer wasn’t something you did for a job.   And so, that’s what I did. I changed my choice of “real” jobs several hundred times (I wanted to be a teacher, a doctor, a marine biologist, etc.   I think I even wanted to be a cowboy astronaut ballerina at some point in there.  LOL.  Sadly there is no call for cowboy astronaut ballerinas.), but while I secretly dreamed of being a writer, I was a good girl and focused my studies on becoming a marine biologist.

I never did become a marine biologist and ended u doing a handful of different jobs, but I never felt like it was the “right one.”  It wasn’t until a little over two years ago—when I was worried to death over my youngest’s illness--that I realized life was too short for could’ve, should’ve would’ves and regrets.  So, I spent every free minute writing (which wasn’t much considering I have a special needs kid—she has Systemic JRA)  and I found what had been missing.  Writing felt right, like no other “real job” had.

And I’ve decided that if it isn’t a “real job” than I don’t want a real one.  Imaginary works just fine for me, especially since I write fiction.  :P

J.A. Souders is the author of RENEGADE a YA dystopian that takes place in an underwater utopian society, coming Fall 2012 from Tor Teen.  For more information visit her blog or website.

She also secretly regrets never pursuing a degree in cowboy astronaut ballerina-ing. 


  1. So true! We spend so much time trying to think of some other job to do instead of writing, when that's all we really want as writers.

    Now if only I could convince someone to actually pay me for it...

    - Liz

  2. Yeah, that's the tricky part, for sure. And the worst part of it is that non-writers don't consider you (all encompasing you there) a writer until you're getting paid for it, which of course can take years.

  3. Life IS too short for regrets. And look what happened when you went after your passions--a real job! :)