Friday, April 08, 2005

"..but I always wanted to be a Jack of all trades!"

My brother in law often bears the brunt of family jokes for his sudden and seemingly erratic interest in career fields that we’ve never previously heard him mention. As in, "But I’ve always wanted to be a micro nuclear engineer who dabbles in science fiction writing!"

Once, he took to frequent mowing while shouldering a backpack full of bricks in training for lifelong NFL aspirations that we’d somehow missed.

I’m on my third human-interest newspaper assignment, and I feel a little more like him every day.

For me, deciding "what to be when I grow up" has always been like standing in front of the Haagen-Dazs counter with about twenty people behind me in line. Lots of choices, lots of pressure…will I really be satisfied with the raspberry cheesecake swirl, and do I want the harried man with ten screaming kids hanging from his pant leg to be responsible if I’m not?

This is at the heart of why I settled into writing. When I suddenly wish I’d followed up on the budding acting career I abandoned at 21, I create a character who’s in a play and then I erratically join a theatre troupe. Or when I wish I’d gone to art school, I just send one of my characters instead. Then I sign up for scads of workshops at the art center for research purposes. I’m tackling my lost medical practice next. I’ll be sending a character to EMT training, so of course I’ll need to go on a few investigative ride-alongs…

But back to the newspaper assignment. My first subject is this hilarious 81-year old man with these incredible stories. I always wanted to write down my grandfather’s stories, but he was Italian and not very cooperative, so it just never happened. However, Mr. Gillie, my subject, has been most accommodating. His family has now commissioned me to preserve his stories in some type of yet-to-be-determined format. But I’m having a blast and it somehow fills just a little bit of the hole that was left when I didn’t get to do this with my Gramps.

Next, I interviewed a photographer. Low and behold, I was inspired to clear out my under the steps closet with a view of turning it into a darkroom.

Then, shockingly enough, an interview with the director of a children’s grief camp director ended with me volunteering to do their arts and crafts. As an art teacher with a degree in psychology who writes a YA series set at a summer camp, this seems right up my alley.

This is a total blast. I can't believe I found a way to make money being indecisive!


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