A wish that went full circle by
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(18 Stories)

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Once I learned to read, I don’t remember not writing. It seemed a natural part of school and life. When I was a young child, my grandmother, who couldn’t read or write English, lived with us. By the time I was in second grade I was writing basic correspondence for her, one of my “jobs” in the household. By fifth grade I was writing short stories, encouraged by my teacher, Miss Mayntner.  At this point I didn’t wish I could be a writer–I already was one.

Reluctantly I did a second career report, but my heart wasn't in it ... I began to wish to be a writer.

In eighth grade, my social studies teacher Mr. Hochman asked us to do a report on a career we would be interested in. (A skinny young man with a prominent Adam’s apple, Mr. Hochman was fascinated by shopping malls, a brand new phenomenon at the time, and was studying the local mall.) I intuitively chose writing, but what was a writing career? We had to interview someone in that profession. Turns out that I came from a family of writers. My paternal grandfather was a wonderful writer, although that wasn’t his career (I enjoy reading many of his letters to this day), and my uncle Julian was a writer and editor for Stereo Review magazine who is still well respected in the field. My father told me about a distant cousin, Martin Gross, who was an author of many nonfiction and fiction books.

I interviewed him and became intrigued with writing as a career, although writing books seemed intimidating. After I gave my report in social studies class, Mr. Hochman said, “Very good, but having a career as a writer is unlikely. I want you to do another report on being a teacher.” Reluctantly I did a second career report, but my heart wasn’t in it (I’ve never coped well with children in groups). I began to wish to be a writer.

In my sophomore year in high school, I discovered theater and my acting talent. I loved it and was good at it. While I continued to enjoy writing, I put my heart and soul into theater. Everyone had assumed I’d major in English, but when I was accepted to Brandeis, I declared a theater major–despite some troubling signs. At the end of each production, something happened–first the sniffles, then laryngitis, then mononucleosis. I seemed to lack the robust stamina of my fellow actors. My biological clock favored the morning light rather than working late into the night. At the end of my freshman year I was offered the chance to move to California, and when I transferred to Mills in September, after a lot of deliberation, I declared an English major. I resumed writing, and it felt completely natural.

I loved all the writing I did for my Mills classes, but how to make a career out of it?  My parents encouraged academia, so I started a masters program in English at Berkeley. Alas, there was a lot more pontification, posturing, and politics than any real writing happening there, so I switched gears and searched for jobs in communications. Many times I was told “You’ll never be a writer in the Bay Area.” There simply was too much competition. It took a few years, and dealing with the frustration of coming in the top ten of hundreds of applicants, but ultimately I landed a job as a marketing writer, and have been writing professionally in some capacity ever since.

Do I ever wish I stuck with my theater dreams? Occasionally, and I still hope to do some community theater. Perhaps I can combine my talents and write a play. I feel very blessed that I didn’t have to be careful what I wished for!

Profile photo of Marian Marian
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.


Characterizations: been there, moving, well written

Comments

  1. Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau says:

    I’d say you have been lucky to be able to write for a living, which is what you always wanted. Having a career in the theatre, no matter how much talent one has, is a hit or miss proposition (I, also, always wanted to act, but gave up on that dream a long time ago, even community theater…I sing in our community chorus, which is lovely). So good for you for finding a way to satisfy your itch and be productive at it!

  2. Profile photo of John Zussman John Zussman says:

    Shame on Mr. Hochman for quashing your writing dreams! In addition to being out of line when dealing with an eighth grader, he was (as we both learned) woefully uninformed about the ways a writer can make a very good living—I dare say, better than his! Or maybe he was just jealous.

    Did you know that Patti and I have written screenplays? Maybe the three of us could collaborate on a play about … flow cytometry?

    • Profile photo of Marian Marian says:

      Well, Mr. Hochman really thought he was doing the right thing. The joke was on him anyway because when Patti and left Mills, it was the middle of the baby bust and there were no teaching jobs at all! Love the flow idea for a play or TV movie–could be a farce or a scientific thriller!

  3. Profile photo of Risa Nye Risa Nye says:

    Isn’t it interesting how our paths in life take us to unexpected places? And it’s never too late to get back on stage in some capacity–keep hope alive! I enjoyed reading about your early love of writing and the concerns about “making it a career.” Seems like it worked out for you!

  4. Profile photo of rosie rosie says:

    I agree with Betsy and John, and although Mr. Hochman intended well, does not erase the fact that he was crushing a budding artist’s hopes and dreams. I am glad though that you are still writing.

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