Excuse me. Which way is my future?

You know those people who seem to shoot out of the womb knowing exactly where they’re headed and what they’re doing in life? Yeah. I’m not one of them. I’m a wanderer. I came into the world, blinked uncertainly and said, “Hmm. No thanks. I don’t need directions. I’ll just go this way for a bit and see if anything looks interesting…”

In the golden years of pre-school, I remember belting out “Singing in the Rain” from the side porch of the house, envisioning myself a world-renowned singer…until my imperfect pitch and fear of public performances killed that particular dream. But, no matter. By the end of third grade, I knew I wanted to become a vegetarian, because I wanted to work with animals for a living. By the time I’d figured out the difference between vegetarians and veterinarians, I’d also come to the conclusion that liking my pets and wanting to touch animal INSIDES were two very different things. Plus I liked bacon. A lot.

By the end of high school, I had matured. I knew that whatever my ultimate life path, I should probably earn a living, so I decided my college major should be business, because it involved money. This seemed a good place to start when planning for one’s future. I took accounting. And finance. And micro economics.

Along the way, I realized I enjoyed my English classes as much (okay, more) than my business classes, and shouldn’t I enjoy myself along the way? So I diversified. I added a second major.

By the time I’d graduated from college and begun my “real life,” I’d worked as a waitress, a data entry clerk, a warehouse employee, a fundraising consultant and a real estate appraiser. Notice the theme here? Me either. Clearly, I had education up the wazoo and no direction in life.

So I began to write a novel.

Before long, I was married, bought a house, and life gifted me another job (in government contracts and project planning for an engineering firm) and then, later, a position in marketing at a boutique investment firm. I had a baby.

The novel was very, very bad.

Years went by. And while life was–lovely–I was still wandering, searching for that thing, that purpose that would make me feel whole and happy. So, with baby #2 on the way, I asked the unthinkable: Would it be possible for me to stay home and become a (dare I say it?) romance novelist? Dearest Hubby, fearing the wrath of pregnancy hormones, said, “yes.”

I finished the novel. By this time, I’d learned to revise (mostly because those first chapters were sheer and utter crap and had to be obliterated.) But, I kept the basic premise and the names of the main characters, and before long I was joining my local writers group and submitting to an editor and… miracle of miracles… rejected. Turns out this happens a lot to novelists. But, I was nothing if not persistent. I wrote another novel. And another. And another…

It was not easy pursuing this new path in life. My business background told me the reality is that few novelists ever make enough to quit their day job. The English major in me wondered when I was going to write something “important.” But there was that little singer, vegetarian, pet-lover inside who knew that this was my purpose.

And, yes, It’s true that announcing one is a romance novelist is somewhat akin to announcing you are a stand-up comic. The pay is poor. The chances of making it ‘big’ are even worse. The jokes are built in. Maybe I haven’t plotted a straight course in life, but I’ve collected lots of story ideas along the way. And at the end of the day, I’m happy. We romance novelists leave the world a brighter place: a place where a smile, some laughter and a happily-ever-after are the reward for enduring the struggles, frustrations and heartache in life. And if that isn’t worth taking the long road, I don’t know what is. 🙂

So, do tell: are you a laser-guided, purpose-filled missile or a life wanderer? Share your story!

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Excuse me. Which way is my future? — 4 Comments

  1. I’m a person who always knows exactly what she wants to do…but then winds up wandering and doing something else, just the same. : ) Loved reading about your journey, Cheri!

  2. I too was lazer guided into getting my teaching degree and minor in theatre…I taught for a few years went back and got my second BA in early childhood education..did that for several years…got pregnant..found a job in a library and loved it..just finished my Master’s in LIS ( library information science) and again am at a crossroads. I too would like to write a book and poetry too like I used to. I have no idea where I am going or what it is I am doing. Sad truly but I have another little one so time is limited and I truly have no Idea….although my greatest passion is singing…so who knows maybe someday???!!!!

    • Ah, a fellow scenic route traveler! LOL I’m not convinced this is a bad thing. Look at everything we’ve gotten to experience along the way! I’ve learned not to worry too much about the crossroads–you can always back-track and/or bushwhack through to the other path if you find you’re not going where you wanted to. As for the singing, never leave behind that which nourishes you. Find a way–no matter how small–to sing every day. Sing to your little one. Sing for friends and family. Sing for yourself. And sleep. Because sleep makes everyone more cheerful, especially babies. 🙂

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