(Originally printed on 11/18/15 in the Independent Florida Alligator Opinions section)
When I was deciding my career as a little girl, full of blind naiveté and enthusiasm for a world that seemed so clearly ready to catapult me to stardom, there were a lot of options on the list.
My aspirations ranged from ballerina to doctor to orange-truck driver over the years, but there was one job that kept coming up in the mix, no matter how many years passed: I wanted to be a writer.
I sat down to write wild stories about elves and fairy princesses when I was in elementary school. I discovered fan fiction in middle school and was super into it, and in high school and college I’ve toyed around with short stories that might never make it out of my computer’s hard drive but are special to me all the same.
My 6-year-old self was quite sure that one day, I could rival J.K. Rowling.
All of this is fine and dandy, but as many people tell me, this casual writing thing is not the stuff that makes a career. It’s not the stuff that makes and supports a life or family. We can’t all be people who sit in fancy cabins during the winter months and write best-selling mysteries a la Colin Firth in “Love Actually”— it’s almost Thanksgiving, so I’m allowed to include “Love Actually” references; it’s totally cool.
Since coming to college and facing up to the fact that the world isn’t as ready to catapult me to stardom as I thought it was, I’ve focused on and developed other passions and decided on other paths I’m actually super psyched to explore. And that’s great.
But what if I’d indulged my inner child and decided to be a gung-ho, full-fledged writer — a coffee-chugging, cigarette-smoking, starving-artist type with the eyeliner and ink-spotted nails to prove it. Where would this Sally be right now? What is she doing? Does perhaps a tiny part of me wish I was there (maybe without the cigarettes)?
Last week, I started watching “Jane the Virgin.” It relentlessly sucked me into a maelstrom of Netflix binging, procrastination and feelings.
First of all, go watch the show; it’s wonderfully gripping. Secondly, it reminded me of something.
There’s a lot of crazy stuff in “Jane the Virgin” — it’s basically a real-life telenovela and the drama is laid on thick. Let’s be real, the plot starts out with someone being accidentally artificially inseminated. There’s also a drug kingpin. You get the idea. But I found myself thinking one of the least believable aspects of the show was that at one point, Jane quits her job to dedicate herself to her childhood dream: being a romance writer.
I remember thinking to myself, “No! Stop this nonsense! You have a baby on the way, Jane. You can’t be doing this kind of thing! Get it together girl; you are better off staying a waitress.”
Despite my misgivings, Jane has kept at writing so far with a dogged determination I can’t help but admire. I still have no idea if it will all work out; I’m waiting for season two to come to Netflix.
How many dreams have we each put down because they aren’t practical? How many things have we fallen behind on? A personal quest we’ve suddenly forgotten about. A promise to write in a journal that hasn’t been touched in months…