Writer’s Workshop: A New Career?

Today, Mama Kat asks the musical question, “If you had to choose a new career for yourself, what would you choose?”

I’ve talked about this before, specifically last September, when the prompt was “Something you wanted to be when you grew up.”

Understand now, I retired on disability about four years ago. My career days are over. But if I had it to do over…

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a musician and spend my life playing the guitar. Problem was, I didn’t know where to begin. I could play the guitar, and was pretty good at it, but never felt comfortable playing in front of people, even my family. I don’t sing well, and I don’t like to sing, so I thought that relegated me to the background, accompanying people who could sing. I was lost on my own; I knew a lot of songs, but none that I could play on my own, so when people would ask me to play something, I was like a deer in the headlights.

Besides, I was led to believe that being a musician wasn’t a “real career.” You know, where you make lots of money and gain lots of prestige working for someone else. I was sold on the idea that having a “real career” was the key to happiness. And maybe it is, for some. I came to believe that being a musician was a good avocation, something to do in one’s spare time, but it was hardly something one could make a living at. Better to focus on getting your degree and making yourself employable, be tops in your field, advance through the ranks.

I’m not going to say that doing all that brought nothing but unhappiness and desolation. It didn’t. But, if I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I’d sink a lot more time into the guitar.

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Five things I wanted to be when I grew up

FridayFive

I was stuck for something to write about, so I went to WordPress’s Daily Post site to get a prompt. I found this article, that suggested I write about what I thought I would be when I grew up.

When I was very young, I wanted to be either a cab driver or a policeman. As I got older, those career paths didn’t appeal to me as much, and I started getting crazy ideas about what I might actually do for real. Sometimes I would share these thoughts with others, and I’d be told to be reasonable, or be realistic, and naturally, I figured, well, they have a better idea than I do, and, fool that I was, give up the idea. Fool that I am today, if someone told me that a career path was unreasonable or unrealistic, I would follow it out of spite.

Here, then, are five career paths that I would follow, if I had a chance to do it again.

Musician. You probably guessed this one already. The first appearance of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show was what planted the seeds of this in my tiny little mind. I wanted to play the guitar like George Harrison, and started guitar lessons at the beginning of sixth grade. Nothing kills a desire to play a musical instrument like being given lessons, I discovered, and quit after a year. I didn’t stop playing, though, and I got pretty good at it. Problem was, I hated performing. So, while I continued to play until I lost the fine muscle control in my right hand, making it practically impossible to hold a pick or play fingerstyle, it was generally for myself. That kind of eliminated that as a career path.

TV Writer. I went through a period in grade school where I thought I was hilarious enough to write TV shows, or at least commercials. At some point, the idea was planted in my head that I was a crappy writer, and I wasn’t funny, and I gave up that idea as well. Now, I realize that being a crappy writer is really no reason to give up on the idea, because everyone starts out as a crappy writer. The way you get better is to keep writing anyway. I also realize that I was, and still am, an absolute scream. I make myself laugh all the time. Not about anything you can discuss in polite company, but trust me, I’m a panic.

Baseball Pitcher. Mary rolled over one night and whispered in my ear, “think of all the things you wanted to do when you were twelve years old.” My reply was “Pitch for the White Sox?” And if I could have thrown anything but a straight ball, and get hitters to either swing and miss or hit it at someone who would catch it, I might just have done that. Now I think I understand enough about pitching to know that, until you get into your late teens, throwing a straight ball is all you should be doing. The sudden popularity of ulnar collateral ligament surgery (“Tommy John” surgery) among high school and college students is n indication that young kids are starting to throw breaking balls way too early.

TV/Radio Announcer. TV and radio have always fascinated me, and I wanted to work in them. I just had no idea where to start. So that went by the wayside.

Journalist. Chicago was a great newspaper town. Back in the Sixties, there were five major daily newspapers (the Tribune, Sun-Times, Daily News, American, and Defender) and hundreds of community newspapers and magazines. I was sent to Northwestern anyway, and it’s the home of the Medill School of Journalism; had I not believed I couldn’t write, I might have applied. I’m sure the faculty would have laughed to the point of incontinence, but that was no reason not to do it. In fact, that might have been the best reason to do it.

This blog is an expression of my wanting to write for a living; it’s one of the reasons I post here at least once a day. Thank you for reading it; it really means the world to me.

So, let’s hear from you: What career dreams did you have when you were younger?