When I was fourteen, I really thought I was going to be a graphic designer 10 years later. But I chickened out– people encourage you to do what you love, but they also tell you to make a lot of money. Then, I didn’t know any graphic designers that made a lot of money, because I didn’t know many people to begin with.
I majored in creative writing in university because I adored the lecturer, who first taught me Gender Studies. Also, writing post-modern poetry seemed like the coolest, most bohemian thing anyone in university could do. I’d rather have Ian McEwan and Zadie Smith as class materials than another fucking Althusser or Marx. (Then again, I’m exaggerating. I loved them all.)
When people ask me what I do for a living, I say, “a writer” only because it’s on my name card. And every time that happens, I recoil into varying spectrums of awkward cynicism as I try to quell any romantic ideas immediately coming from them– I don’t write novels or poetry. I write for a business newspaper.
But, I love what I do. A crude, uncreative analogy is the young girl idealizing an archetypal partner for most of her life, when suddenly, she realises that it was her best friend all along.
It isn’t writing that I necessarily love, just as how I can’t say I absolutely love breathing. But what I can say I love is the honour to be let into a different kind of reality– the story of other lives. Nothing is more gratifying than listening or experiencing the excruciating details, the neglected histories and the invention of futures by just having a conversation with one other person.
Writing gives me that chance to glimpse, almost intimately, into another soul or another earth. It’s strangely synonymous to reading, listening to a podcast or watching a documentary. But in this case, I get an ego-boosting and self-gratifying pleasure of creating and sharing something good.
So, I allow myself some sentimentalism as we approach the end of the year. Here, I am thankful for the one thing that has evidently stuck through all my whims and fancy, deliriously-made decisions, and sobering moments of discovering what the self means to me, and how I should perceive the world around me. It is writing.
Through this very simple yet compelling mode of expression, are entire worlds of possibilities, without forgetting that writing is of course, merely a means– and I believe that most of us have the access to harness and develop the means that will meet what we would love to learn and experience.
I can’t say for sure what I’ll be in the next 5 years–I have only a vague idea, which is scary sometimes, but I find myself enthralled by the very fuzziness of it. One thing I’m sure– I’ll still be writing, and I’ll still be learning.