…once I pinpoint what they are exactly!
In all my time as a mentor to teenagers, I spouted the idea of believing in yourself and following your dreams. That’s wonderful advice which would be even more valuable if I took my own insights to heart. I have many “dreams” and coordinating skills but have yet to narrow down a career path that’s financially, artistically and spiritually fulfilling. I flounder. I grow impatient, restless. I give all my attention and focus to the job at hand, leaving little energy for my artistic interests.
I’ve refrained from writing about this topic out of fear that potential employers would view me in a negative light. I pushed the doubts aside and chose to put pen to paper all the issues and questions I’ve faced in my pursuit of an artistic, meaningful career with the hope that my experiences may prompt reflection by others in a similar predicament.
I am a writer who writes up a storm yet only shares her work on a semi-frequent basis. I write to spur discussion, inspire respectful discourse, and cultivate spiritual reflection. I have a lot to say and care about the way in which I present my thoughts. So, I take my time – reviewing and editing until the cows come home, which is indefinitely since I don’t live on a farm. Meanwhile, my writing skills are neither earning me an income nor are they reaching readers.
How can I continue pursuing a professional writing career if I’m not sure which “dream” to pursue?
- SINGER: Music was the core of my very being and my first true love. I’d watch television programs that featured singing youngsters or arts-centric schools and sit on my floor next to my cassette player singing every word to every Dolly Parton song. I loved to sing, but had tremendous stage fright. An issue I had to overcome when I performed on stage during a college acting showcase many years ago. That acapella performance was a highlight of my life, singing my favorite musical theatre song to a packed audience. Recording an album or singing on a Broadway stage is a dream that pops up every now and again, and I’ve accepted the fact that it’s not likely to happen any time soon.
- TV WRITER: Around junior high, I proclaimed to friends that one day I’d be a soap opera writer. I knew the characters, the plot developments, and loved the idea of creating the dialogue while keeping viewers wanting more. At the time, I believed it to be a viable and realistic career option for me. This passion for television dramas built my writing identity. I had so many storyline ideas and little “scenes” running through my mind on a daily basis, and the only healthy solution was to write them down. Hence, my “skits” were born. I learned only a few years ago that what I was doing then (taking characters from existing shows and writing new storylines) actually had a name – fan fiction. My face lights up when I discuss a recent TV episode and find someone who knows not only the actors’ names but those of the writers, too. This interest formed when I was young and developed into a potential career option as a teenager. Somewhere in the last twenty-five years, I pushed this dream aside and moved on to more “safe” options.
- NOVELIST: I never imagined that I’d write a book one day, but I have. What started as a writing prompt morphed into a story that wouldn’t let go. Despite many revisions that entailed painful plot and character removals, I am proud of the finished piece and can’t wait to see it on a bookshelf, or better yet…an “Out of Stock” sign on the shelf. Because I love dialogue and see the action so clearly in my mind’s eye, I gravitated to screenplays and stage plays first. Then, I discovered writing a novel was only a different way of telling the same story. I could describe the details, the emotions, the internal thoughts and feelings of characters that I would have had to restrain from doing if I wrote it as a screenplay or stage play. The completed novel is book one in a series and I’m about halfway through writing another novel in a different genre. I thrive on creating vivid characters and engaging stories and never anticipated that would take form in a novel.
I’ve spent the past few years working as a copywriter, editor, and proofreader. I took easily to editing and proofreading, primarily because I like mentoring others. We each have our own writing style, voice, and strengths but it can get lost in the restrictions/guidelines set before us. Writing was then, and is now, my artistic strength.
Which brings me to my current dilemma – pursuing a career in the entertainment industry that will earn me a livable income and stimulate the creative spirit within. I do believe in all of the talents and dreams I listed above, and I know that one day each will have its turn to shine. My novel will be published even if I have to do it myself, and I’ll continue singing though only in my car or living room. The dream that I once believed in more than the rest deserves its place in the spotlight. Pursuing a career as a writer for dramatic television I don’t imagine to be smooth-sailing or bound to happen in a timely fashion, but if I never pursue this interest, I will look back with regret.
Believing in yourself and following your dreams are as valid and important as I used to proclaim so many years ago. Now, it’s time for me to practice what I preach!