Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New things

I'm home again, for the month of November, and considering my options.

I had almost decided to start graduate school. I'd even aspired to a voice Master's from UNC Greensboro. It's supposed to be a very competitive school, but I thought that the competition might motivate me to try harder.

Then I had a voice lesson. My confidence deflated like a balloon. It's amazing how much you can forget in four years away from singing! The slump passed quickly, but it was too late: I'd already let the doubt in.

I love to sing, and I never want to stop, but I'm pretty sure now that voice is not the ideal career path for me. To succeed in the performing arts, you must be absolutely positive about what you are doing. There is no room for self-doubt, and you must be 100% committed. I've tried to take it that seriously, but in truth I've never been that resolved.

The problem is that my real ambition-- and I know, I've waffled a lot on this blog, but this is the real one-- was always to be an author. Not a writer. An author. If you'd asked me at age five or six what I wanted to be, that's what I would have told you. If you'd asked me at age seven, eight or nine, I would have said the same thing. It wasn't until I hit middle school, and started hearing about how hard it was to succeed as a writer, that my career ambitions started to waver.

I once heard that the job you dream of at age six is usually the best one for you. I'm sure that in most cases, that's not true-- "fairy-princess-ballerina" comes to mind. However, I have always wanted to write. I've littered my life with notebooks half-full of stories I never had the steam to finish-- and they're fascinating stories. I find them and want to keep reading, even though the ideas were eaten by moths a long time ago.

I've never given up on this. I've let my music slide-- I've let my languages slide-- I've let everything else slide, but I've always had a story going. I guess this should have been a sign to me.

I knew, though, that it was hard to make a living as a writer. Anyone you ask will tell you that. I've always tried to have some solid career trajectory in mind to keep my loved ones from worrying. "Oh... I'm going to be a teacher. I think I could be a pretty good teacher." "Maybe I'll be a nurse. Do you like being a nurse?" "Urban planning. It should be fun, and it's compatible with my talents..." My most recent scheme was to come home and become a wedding singer.

I still might do some of that, if life works out that way. I love to sing. I love weddings. I love to dress up and be fancy.

I just don't think I can make my life out of it.

Right now I'm thinking seriously about taking a CELTA course after my current contract is up, and using it to find a job somewhere new and interesting. I don't want the best job, or the most prestigious job, or the most glamorous job. I want a solid, reliable, low-stress job, where I can get all my work done and have plenty of time left over to write. ESL jobs are great in this respect-- and have the added advantage of taking you to exciting new places. I don't have to find A Perfect Thing; I just need to find A Thing That Works For Now.

I was talking to a friend about this yesterday, and she pretty much got it.

"All of this," I said, "is pretty much a way to bide my time until I start finishing and publishing books."

"But you no longer feel guilty about this."


And that seems to be the crux of the matter. I no longer feel guilty about devoting myself to the one kind of work I have always known I could do.

I've set up a writing blog to document my progress, and am using National Novel Writing Month as a way to kick-start a new project. It's not easy: I've finally, finally realized that serious writing is hard work.

But I'm up for it.