I was asked, “What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?” The short answer to the question is that I was born a writer, and it was the only possible decision.
I never recall a time when my life goal was anything other than being a writer. When I was as young as six, I began writing stories about the man from Mars for my older sister. I continued to write throughout high school and had finished a novel before I graduated (not that it was any good). My parents, however, were practical people, and while they never told me that I couldn’t be a writer, they insisted I have a back-up plan. When I was looking into college majors, my only true consideration was how would this help me become a writer. I ended up as an English major, which allowed me to read a great deal of literature (every writer needs to first be a reader). Since a bachelor’s degree in English isn’t really an employable degree, I went on to get a Ph.D. in American literature.
In the process of attaining an advanced degree, I stopped writing fiction. I forgot that the Ph.D. and a university professorship was merely the back-up plan. I wrote the literary criticism that was necessary to advance myself in academia, and I was absolutely miserable. As I now tell my creative writing students, a writer has to write in order to be happy. I believe that being a writer, or an artist of any kind, is part of a person’s soul, and if that part isn’t nurtured, the soul withers.
One day in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, I realized why I was unhappy. My soul was starved. I threw away the partially complete literary article and began my first novel instead.
While my lack of literary publications and my writing of fantasy fiction, which is not highly regarded in academia, has stopped me from advancing to a full professorship, I have never regretted this decision. My soul is no longer withering.
Of course, I want as many people as possible to read my books, but even if they were never read by anyone but me, writing them was the only possible decision for me to live a fulfilled life. Writing makes me happy. Writing feeds my soul.
So if I have any advice for aspiring writers out there, it would be to remember that a writer has to write. Don’t let anything stop you even if the entire world tells you you’re wasting your time. Your soul knows better.
Are you a writer? Share what it was like for you in the comments.