Digging around in old files, I came across an assignment from an undergraduate nonfiction writing class. A lot of the stuff I produced in creative writing classes from age 20-through-24 (basically, all the creative writing classes I ever took) was, uh, not that great, but that’s OK – lots of first drafts. This assignment stuck in my mind, even years later, as being a little more honest and coherent than the rest of the stuff my 21-year-old self put together for this particular class.
The prompt was to make a list. Clearly I took it as, make a list of everything I’d ever wanted to be when I grew up, which alone is an excellent prompt.
So… think about your own list. Who did you want to be someday? How did that ideal person change as you yourself changed?
October 1, 2009
A writer of some kind, any kind, because I liked to draw pictures and felt that stringing together sentences into stories was the next natural step at age nine
A journalist, because adults told me that was the job for me if I wanted to write and I didn’t know any better at age twelve
A news writer, because I loved imagining my name on Page 1 of the Cleveland “Plain Dealer” that sat on the kitchen table of my parent’s house every morning
The editor of “Newsweek,” because that was my favorite source for news and since I thought its content was disappointing at age fourteen, I was sure I could someday “fix it”
A syndicated columnist for “The New York Times,” because I thought my opinions were better than anyone else’s at age seventeen
A news writer, because I thought it was exilerating, challenging and fun at the time
A columnist, again, maybe not for “The New York Times” but maybe for a small newspaper, because I thought I was better at writing columns than news stories
A writer of some type, any type, because I thought that I wasn’t good at anything else at age nineteen
An MFA recipient, because at age twenty, I thought grad school sounded fun – even though, as I told my mother this, I could hear her gritting her teeth on the other end of the call, asking, “Well, will that even help your career?”
A writing teacher, because I realized I wanted to get paid and knew this type of job was all I was going to get with an MFA
An editor of a newspaper, because it was just like writing news – exhilarating, challenging and fun at the time
An editor of a new media-type web-based electronic publication that probably didn’t exist yet, because I realized newspapers may be dying
A writer of some kind, any kind, again, just because it’s what I wanted and want to do