On Disregarding Reasonable Advice and Following Passion
by Zac Djamoos
It’s hard to think of a question more frequently posed to young kids than, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers will range, though. You’ll get kids who look up to local heroes: “A police officer!” “A firefighter!” “[X] just like my daddy/mommy!” Then there’s really ambitious kids: “An astronaut!” “A singer!” “An actor!” “A writer!” Those are the kids you smile at, you pat on the head, you tell, “Anything’s possible.” Oh, you think to yourself, to be young and naïve.
I was always one of those kids — specifically, I was the last one. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. When I was young child I was fascinated by the way I felt like I was watching whole stories unfold, like I had gotten to know characters like friends, like I could see the foreign lands I was reading about all around me. The older I got, the more I came to appreciate the meaning behind writing — how Book A stirred up public consciousness at this unjust war, how Book B led to national discussions about discrimination — the way books worked not only as stories, but as commentaries, too. I think what I’ve always loved most was the creativity on display. I’ve known for about as long as I’ve been reading that I want to be able to do what my favorite authors do, to give other people the same feelings I got.
The biggest problem was that no one else seemed to share my enthusiasm at my potential writing career. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” turned into, “What do you plan on studying in college?” My answer didn’t change. People’s responses to it did, though. “Anything’s possible,” got a caveat, “But, you know, it’s really hard to make a living writing these days.” The future isn’t in art or literature, after all, it’s in science, technology, engineering, and math. It’s in coding, it’s in web design, it’s in doing things, not just writing words.
Besides, the landscape for writers is different now, anyway. Book sales are going down — way down. The market is saturated. More books are being published now than ever before, and that number goes up every year. Anything worth writing about has already been written about (and probably much better). People don’t read these days. I’ve heard, I’m sure, every cynical argument about why I shouldn’t go into writing, why it isn’t worth it, and why my life plan is bad.
So I adjusted. I’m not going to school for it (I’m going for education), but that doesn’t mean I can’t still pursue it. Hell, I’ve been pursuing it; I’ve been writing for various music-related online publications for the past three years. I’m writing this now. I’m trying to get my name out. I’m trying to write as much as I can. I’m trying to stay optimistic about it. Because if there’s a chance at all that any of this could lead to a writing career for me, I think it’s worth a shot. If not, at least I’m having fun. But if it can help me realize my dream job, that’s something.
I’ve always appreciated a challenge anyway.
Zac Djamoos is eighteen years old and used to write reviews for AbsolutePunk. He’s looking to make a career out of music journalism and can be followed on twitter here.