When I daydream about where I want to go in life, it starts with my writing. My first dream is that I want to publish a book. I want to publish a book and see my name in print and walk into Barnes and Nobel and see my book on the shelf. I want to feel pride and relief that I actually did it. I want my book to make it to the New York Times best-selling list and I want to save the little blurb about it. I want to go on Ellen or maybe The Talk and I want the studio audience to go home with a copy. I want my book to turn into a movie and I want to help write it and I want to spend the summer in Hollywood working on its set. Then I want to publish another book, then I want to write another one and publish that too. I want to finish the forty-plus books that are in my writing queue. I want to write at least one book that takes place in every state. I want to inspire fan fiction.
And then people say, “That’s nice, but what’s your backup plan?” Or “That’s really cool, what are you doing until then?” And I tell them, I’m working towards that; I’m writing every day. I’m editing every day. I’m working on my books every day.
The choice that I made for my post-grad life draws a lot of questions. I’ve been convinced by the adults in my life that it would be better if I went to graduate school, if I went and got my masters, my Ph.D., focused on publishing a book after I got a permanent job with a good pay and my own apartment. I’ve been told that it’s just “two more years; two more years is nothing.”
But two more years of school is something. Two more years is time that I can’t focus on new work, it’s time I can’t edit, it’s time I can’t send out query letters or work with my editor. Every time someone tries to convince me that it would be in my best interest to go get my masters, go get a P.A. degree, I wonder why my dream isn’t enough.
Of course, my dream is enough for me, but for everyone else, it’s a hobby and a side job. It’s something I should be doing in between coursework while pursuing something more reasonable.
Once upon a time, my dream was to have a Ph.D. in psychology. I was going to move to Boston and be a clinical psychologist and work on the psych ward at Mass Gen. If that were still my dream, I’d probably have fewer people trying to steer me onto a different career path.
No one questions those who dream of being doctors and lawyers and psychologists. They aren’t asked what to do in the mean time or what their backup plan is. But they’re still dreamers. I wonder how the world would be different if we supported those who don’t choose practicality. If we didn’t relegate them down to hobbies and side jobs. The world needs doctors and lawyers and psychologists. But the world also needs storytellers and creators and dreamers.
Being young and a dreamer can be difficult, but I wouldn’t want to be anything else.