Someone asked me the other day why I chose creative writing as a career. The truth is, I didn’t choose it. Writing chose me. If I wanted to continue living, I really didn’t have a choice. Okay, I know, this sounds esoteric, and it is! In most careers, we feel a calling: doctors, lawyers, athletes. If we’re tuned into ourselves at all, the need to follow a certain path starts early in our lives.
For me it didn’t. I was in my mid-twenties when I distinctly recall sharing a ride with Mary, a co-worker, to our jobs at Olsten Temporary Help Services in San Francisco. We both lived in Marin County then, and during our commute, I had told her about leaving home at fifteen, having a child just after I turned seventeen, and being self-supporting ever since. She felt I should write about these experiences.
I amazed myself when I blurted out that I’d always wanted to be a writer. The moment is vivid in my memory. A high-school dropout, while I was an avid reader, I had no idea what writers did or how to become one. Nor had I consciously considered taking such a path that I was aware of. So the words floored me, and it took several years before I remembered them and was able to put them into action.
But first, I went through a major depression, and that took me into psychotherapy. From my work with therapists, I eventually uncovered my writing self and began to give it life by enrolling in writing classes and eventually took a BA in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. After, I earned an MA in Creative Writing. And I’ve been passionately following this calling ever since.
I started out as a diarist and poet. Gradually, I expanded so that I now write in every area except screen and play writing. I continue to be grateful to the voice inside me that seemed to know long before I did what my vocation should be. Since only five percent of writers are able to support themselves from doing it, I earn most of my money from teach writing in multiple genres. Though the actual writing isn’t how I support myself financially, it is what feeds my deepest self, and I can’t go a day without doing it. Thanks to the writing gods!