“What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?”
We all grow up with visions in our head of who we want to be when we grow up. It’s a common thing to ask a child, and in a way asking one what they want to do when they’re older is a simple way to engage a child in small talk (and people most often turn to small talk as the entertainment option of choice in public situations). Children get wild ideas of what they want to do and who they want to be, and most often these hopes turn to more realistic goals as they get older. Sure, anyone can become an astronaut if they really put their mind to it, but a child’s imagination of what that job entails and what that career actually does are two very different things, which I think is why that opinion so often changes with age.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an architect. My dad works in construction, so I wanted to ‘one-up’ him by being the overseer of all these people working on skyscrapers. I liked the idea of staring down at this huge blueprint and telling people what to do, which probably says a lot about my childhood (plus Freud probably wouldn’t be surprised at my aspirations given my father’s occupation). One of the funniest things I get from that is that my personality, which I identify using the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, is labeled as “The Architect”. My personality is one of strategy, order, and efficiency, so while not strictly a ‘coincidence’, my childhood dreams weren’t too far from who I actually became.
My childhood was also filled with video games. I grew up on the XBox, Playstation, and GameCube. I’ve played pretty much every genre that exists, and it became the culture I grew accustomed to. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since it launched, which means I was no older than eight when I was introduced to it. I remember running around as a night elf hunter with a claymore I bought from a vendor, and it makes me shudder to think about it now.
In middle school, I read the Codex Alera, which is an epic fantasy series by Jim Butcher. It was pretty much the first book I read that I really enjoyed. Before that I had read Harry Potter, some Lemony Snicket, and several children’s series. Later, I was watching a Q&A about how Jim Butcher came up with the idea for the Codex Alera, and I found out that he wrote it over an online bet. I thought the story was hilarious, so I was telling my mom about it one day at a party, and she challenged me to write something based on the same idea. She gave me two ideas to combine: Codename: Kids Next Door, a cartoon we both liked, and Clifford the Big Red Dog, and I have no idea how she came up with that as the second concept. Nobody watched it at my house.. Several years and drafts later, the story I initially wrote with marker on an orange paper bag at that party became The Soldier of Nadu. I’ve been writing ever since.
The story doesn’t end there, though. I believe we all have our own paths to take, and I’m still quite uncertain whether or not this is the path I am meant to take. I honestly don’t read very much (I have probably physically read only about a dozen books in the last two years), and before very recently I didn’t really write a whole lot, either. This blog is almost as long as the combined total of everything I’ve ever written, and I started it less than six months ago. I don’t actually enjoy writing all that much, and its easy for me to get distracted. I know that a lot of my grievances in that regard are simply things all writers have to deal with, but I don’t know if its because I am a writer or if its because I’m not one.
As far as my experience has taken me, though, I do have some confidence. I do a lot of research on writing, I write a substantial amount every day, and I consistently listen to audiobooks. Whatever my purpose is, I’m going the right direction, even if I don’t know what specific road to take. Even if I’m not meant to be an author, I’m learning more and more about literature, plot, and storytelling. I’ll be doing something related to that, I know. So whatever it is I’ll end up doing, I can rest easy knowing that I’m not wasting my time with reading and writing now.