Well, this one’ll be a longy, faithful blog reader. I recommend pouring a glass of wine. Maybe put a party pizza in the oven. I’ll wait.
If you’ve known me for some time, you’re aware that I’ve had multiple and varied “lives”. Professionally, I’ve been a pretty wide variety of things, from musician to missionary to entrepreneur to marine to radio executive. Currently, I purposely live a confusing life wherein I’m not sure what to say to people when they ask me what I do. “A little bit of everything?” I’m a fan of dabbling. I enjoy being involved in multiple things at once. It keeps people guessing. It keeps me guessing.
There was a time when I thought I’d be an astronaut. I carried that one from grade school all the way up to college. Then I thought I’d direct films for a living. I had a hot minute when I thought I’d join the priesthood.
In June, for the first time in my entire life, I realized that I had no aspirations. No professional goals. No ambitions. On one hand, this was incredibly freeing. I’ve spent most of my life assuming that ambition was “the thing”, but really most who make ambition their main thing are just assholes. I am not an asshole most days, so perhaps making ambition my focus was never a good idea at all.
It’s just that even with my love of dabbling and my apparent dislike of ambition, it feels good to have a “thing”. You know, your thing. The thing you do. The thing you’re passionate about. The thing you’re good at. Maybe the way you make money, maybe not. Either way, it’s the thing you spend time on not because someone’s making you, but because you love it so much. Does it completely define you? No, but it’s certainly among the top three things that do.
When I was 18, I did an exercise with a group of young adults wherein we worked through some activities and answered some questions over a 3-day period, all focussed on figuring out what we wanted to do with our lives. I’ve since come to believe that asking an 18 year old kid what he wants to do with his life is about as productive as asking an egg whether it plans on being a chicken or an iguana, but I digress. The exercise wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was the result we thought we could obtain. The definitive “What do I want to be when I grow up?” answer.
This exercise included working through questions like:
- What have people consistently told you that you’re good at?
- List activities that bring you joy.
- Describe your dream job without including specifics about the job itself, but rather what it’s like to do the job.
You answer all of these questions and cross reference them, which should produce some general career ideas, one of which should resonate with you deeply.
At that time, it pointed to “filmmaker”. That result affected so much of my life, from my studies in college to my military career. I don’t regret it. I’ve made friends in the film world, and I even once optioned a screenplay, a lifetime ago. Dreams of making movies did affect my life, but I’d say for the better. And I believed that about myself for more than a decade.
Then in June, in my 30’s, looking my 40’s dead in the eye, for the first time I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Somehow “filmmaker” had faded, over the years of not making movies.
Last month, I got out that old workbook and redid the exercises from all of those years ago. This time not as a bright-eyed 18 year old kid, believing that he was setting the stage for the next 60 years of his life, but as a seasoned adult who knows that nothing is permanent, including my passions.
Wanna know what the result was this time?
That’s right. A writer. The thing that brings me the most joy, the thing I believe for which I have some natural talent, the thing that’s given me some success, it’s always been writing.
I still want to be a serial entrepreneur. I still want to be a professional dabbler. One thing’s for certain, the idea of doing the same thing over and over again for 40+ hours every single week for the rest of my life is awful. Stuff of nightmares, man. But I still want my main thing, and that main thing is writing professionally.
Why? I’m so glad you asked!
- Writing is one of the purest creative outlets there is. A writer is limited only by words and the imaginations of his readers.
- Though my skills are rough and need considerable work, I believe I have some natural talent in this arena.
- Writing can be done anywhere, and if you know me, you know I hate being tied down to any one physical location.
- Writing can be done any time, which means that my other passions can continue to be part of my professional makeup. Which is really great, since I probably won’t be able to make a living from writing for quite a long time.
- I’m super excited by storytelling, and writing is the starting point of story.
There are some challenges ahead for me, no doubt about it. For one, I’m not really all that accomplished, and I’m not the youngest of dudes. Also, as I mention above, I’m not that great at writing, from a skills point of view. I make very common writing mistakes all the time. I’d say I’m about a C-grade writer who occasionally produces B-grade work on accident. I need to be consistently A-grade if I want to do this professionally.
Full disclosure, I have indeed been paid to write here and there over the years. Editorials, web content, ad copy. I’ve even sold a piece of creative work. So I’m blessed that I’ve actually tasted what it could be like to write professionally. I’m lucky that I’m not starting completely from zero, just very close to it.
Here goes. Wish me luck!
Um, so yeah. In conclusion…if you need something written…uh…consider me?