Home > Writing and Poetry > Careers, Satisfaction, and Who Am I?

Careers, Satisfaction, and Who Am I?

I want to talk about careers today and writing careers in particular. Our last two guests have spoken about how their lives took either sudden or gradual twists that led them to a writing career. When I look back over all the writers I’ve met during the past couple of years, a theme emerges.

With the rare exception in mind, the vast majority of writers over the age of 40 in my acquaintance had previous careers that had nothing to do with writing, or, ones where writing comprised only a tiny peripheral position. I know why I waited to begin taking the job seriously. Others had families to care for, bills to pay, you know the drill. You’ve either been there yourself or know someone who has.

For Mikki Sadil of yesterday’s interview, a rising singing career was cut short for medical reasons. She’s a talented gal, though, so she turned her hand to fine art and the easel. That sustained her until she went back to school. And another turn of the career wheel took place. And another, and finally another until she began writing. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how any one person can have so many talents.

Well, let me tell you, they’re out there and many times where you least expect them. How about the little librarian who pens, not romance novels, but gritty crime thrillers? Or, what about the burly gym teacher/coach who writes and publishes the most poignant poetry one could imagine? Or, the retired Marine who could write for Saturday Night Live and make a really nice living?

We’re told to not judge a book by its cover, even though that drives many sales. We do understand the meaning, though. Well, how about not judging a writer by the day job? There are such things as pseudonyms. Do you really know what your favorite writer does in her/his non-writing time? Then again, you may not care.

Let me question you this answer, as they say in some parts of the South. If you are a full-time writer and something forced you to stop writing, what would you do?

Would you “change your major?” And what would you change it to? Perhaps take up photography to keep your hand in the creative arena? How about teaching in the field? Would you have to go back to school for that?

The questions can roll on and on for the permutations of possible paths away from writing are endless. It could be as wildly unrelated as becoming a full-time cook or recipe developer. You might decide you liked the outdoors so much you wanted to become of forest/park ranger or wildlife warden somewhere.

Yet, the overall question is this. Would you find the same level of life satisfaction in your new field as you did with writing? For Mikki, satisfaction is there as it was for painting, but will never measure up to the satisfaction of singing. Nonetheless, she’s willing to give up writing if she should have to because the craft doesn’t define her. It’s something she does, not what she is.

So, ask yourself, who are you, really? How do you define yourself? Back when Babylon 5 glued us to our sets in the nineties and on, one of the characters, Delen (the Mimbari ambassador) was put to judgment for many reasons, but the only question being asked of her was, “Who are you?”

The correct answer had nothing to do with her background, her training, her social status, her work, nothing. It had only to do with what made her the spirit she was. It referred to that spark of uniqueness that quantified her spiritual identity/humanity, if you will. Would she, without reservation, sacrifice herself for another, one that she loved. Only when she could answer that question was she allowed to go free without more torment.

I believe that’s somewhere close to Mikki’s point. Nothing she’s done in her life, on whatever level, exemplifies who she is. A very fortunate lady is our Miss Mikki. She’s cracked that nutshell and come away with the prize. Would that we all come to our own definitions.

Regardless of career paths chosen, satisfaction gained or decisions about our futures, in the end all we can claim remains only who we are in truth. Each of us comes to that inner chamber of judgment to face the inquisitor. I toast all who take the challenge whether you come away with the prize or not. You, at least, have the fortitude to face that inner chamber without wearing all the masks you carry each day to play the roles laid out for you.

No one has to strive for that knowledge. It already exists within. If you choose to go exploring and looking for that prize, expect to be surprised. We each store away forgotten aspects of ourselves.

Have a great week, all. Write well, or at least prolifically. Laugh hard and give yourself a bellyache. Kiss someone you love and tell friend you miss them. Well, you do, don’t you.

Until tomorrow and my interview with Lynn Bemis, enjoy life.

A bientot,

Claudsy

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Categories: Writing and Poetry
  1. January 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    It is a good thing to be able to change directions, if the path is blocked. And it is remarkable to realize how many people are hiding great talents behind uncommon exteriors. I am always amazed and inspired by those who manage to blaze through lives of hurried and harried activities, then find the time and energy to apply their true talents elsewhere.

    Never judge a book by its cover is such a great saying because you never know when the mousy little lady who rarely speaks might be an inventor of just the perfect tool, behind closed doors. Or, the gruff-looking neighbor with the scar on his face and a mustache may turn out to be the creator of clever detective stories for middle-grade students. Look at a pictue of Dr. Seuss. By his looks, I would have thought he truly was a doctor; not someone who penned some of the greatest picture books ever imagined.

    Thank you, Clauds, for another great summation. I am inpired by both you and Mikki to Sally Forth and live my dream.

    ~ Yaya
    Yaya’s Changing World

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