Every writer that I know has ended up in this career by a different route—one was a journalist, another a pastor, another a cop, and the list goes on. Some people aspire to be novelists, and then they end up doing that right out of college (or instead of going to college).
For me, my love of stories began when my uncle told my brother, my sister and I stories when we were kids. I became a fanatical reader of mystery and fantasy stories—mostly short stories, since I’ve never really had a very long attention span.
I never imagined that I could make a career out of writing and telling stories, but when I was in college I told stories to the campers at the YMCA camps I worked at, and then started traveling around to elementary schools and libraries telling stories to the children. I still have a journal entry from my sophomore year of college when I wrote that I would never be fulfilled unless I was a storyteller. Actually, I was moving when I stumbled across that entry so many years later and realized that I had this desire planted in my heart even before it looked like I would ever be able to make a career out of doing it.
When I graduated with an MA in Storytelling in 1997, I started to travel nationally performing stories, teaching storytelling, and speaking at conferences and special events. However, I had young girls at home at the time and I didn’t want to be gone while they were growing up, so I started to write my stories down so that I could still tell stories but publish them instead of verbalize them. In time I began to write longer and longer stories, and today I’ve landed on being a novelist.
As far as keeping the fire burning, truthfully, I feel like I was always meant to be a storyteller, and I never get tired of it. Yes, there are long days and editing can be wearisome and writing is mentally draining work—all of that is true—but writing also energizes me.
Back in the 90s before pursuing my career as a writer and storyteller, I worked for four years at a summer camp. I was in a creative job, working outside with children, active, rock climbing, swimming, etc—all things I love. However, I wasn’t happy. When I was leading the ropes course or leading a climbing trip, I would find myself thinking how cool it would be to be writing about the experience. But when I’m writing, I never wish I were doing something else. I think that when we end up pursuing the passion that God planted in our hearts, we’ll know it. So, ask yourself: What doesn’t seem like a means to an end, but an end in itself? It’s a good clue as to what you were shaped to do with your life.