What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Posted on 02/02/2012 by


When people ask I generally tell them that I’ve always wanted to be a writer. That’s not really true. It wasn’t until I was about seven it first occurred to me that ‘writer’ was a profession and that I, one day, might need one of those. And to be perfectly honest, these two realisations didn’t have much to do with one another.

When the idea did finally occur to me (probably at the prompting of a nearby adult or reasonable equivalent) I gave it due consideration, acknowledged that if I was going to be doing it anyway I might as well call it a job. And then, being the horribly practical child that I was, I decided I would need another career to support my writing habit.

I considered a variety of options.* Teacher, at seven (roundly discouraged by my parents, both teachers). Archaeologist, at nine. Amanuensis for an author, at eleven. Architect, at fourteen. Assassin, at fifteen. (Okay, yes, I like the letter ‘a’. ‘Author’ also begins with an ‘a’.)

Of them all, architect is the only option I took remotely seriously. In fact, the only reason I’m not a perfectly sens— all right, realistically, the only reason I’m not masquerading as a perfectly sensible architect today is because my life was derailed sharply in my last years of high school, and I went from thinking vaguely about my future to wondering if I had one. Which is a really remarkable tool for achieving clarity of focus.

In the blinding clarity of no tomorrow I decided to do what I wanted to do, and by the time practicality and the realisation that I might have a future after all arrived I was most of the way through a writing degree. At which point I said fuck it and just went with it.**

So it’s probably more true to say that as long as I’ve known what ‘a writer’ was I’ve thought being one was a neat if impractical idea. And I’ve always kind of wanted to be impractical.


* Actually, while I liked the idea of a lot of things, for the longest time the only thing I could actually picture myself doing was being a fire engine driver. (I lived around the corner from the fire brigade in an area that’s known for bursting into flame regularly. I saw a lot more of the driving than the actual fire fighting. Seemed feasible.)

** Although I have a masters degree to prove I haven’t entirely lost my sense of pessimism. And that I shouldn’t make decisions at cocktail parties.


Posted in: Kandace