Why on earth would anyone want to be a writer?
In my case, I avoided the idea for many years. I won a few contests as a kid, and genuinely enjoyed writing. But none of it was really for the public. It was simply something I did. Is there a career based on breathing?
Four years ago I was divorced and lost my job in quick succession. My two kids were used to a life supported by a Chemical Engineer’s salary, so the lab was where I focused my search for new work. I found some quickly enough, but the hours they wanted me to work were a problem. Part of the reason I lost my job in the first place was that I was inflexible on one point: I had to leave at 3:00 to get my kids at school.
Once I became a single co-parent, this became far more important. I see my kids every single day for a good two hours. They practice piano and other music and I get a chance to read to them. Two nights a week are with me as well, when we explore the finer points of anime and James Burke’s “Connections”, among other videos.
I schedule my life around my kids. My work must come second to that. This means that I must have a flexible schedule that gives me two hours in the middle of the day.
This does not require me to be a writer. I tried being an entrepreneur, but that frankly didn’t work out for me. I tried selling and designing Amish made furniture, but the business wasn’t big enough to support all of us. I was left with what I did for myself.
It is awfully difficult to promote your abilities, especially when pushing into an area where you have little track record. People want any hired gun to be proven. More than anything, I find myself fighting against the perception that grant writing is a careful and bureaucratic process; I want to inject the passion for fixing the world back into it.
It’s not a bad life, if a bit in progress. I still make time for something that vaguely resembles art. I have the time I need for the kids. Clients who need their story told really do make it all worthwhile, and not just for the money. Everyone has a story, and nurturing that story into the fire that invigorates an organization and draws resources to it is what makes it all fun. It is like breathing when you do what the client really needs. Stories are nothing short of the breath that keeps an organization moving.
For me, however, it’s for the kids. That’s what I really care about more than anything. It’s not about writing their stories, its about being them. Those kinds of stories are nothing less than the beginning of legends.