Tuesday, November 16, 2010

11/16/2010 Writing

I heard a panel discussion on KQED tonight (local NPR affiliate) in which a children's book author was asked, by a girl about 10 years old, when he knew he wanted to be a writer. He said he'd always known, he'd always wanted to be a writer.

What do you mean, want to be a writer? What writer wants to be a writer? What does want have to do with it?

I've always assumed I'd be a writer too, pretty much since I could write. But I was surprised to hear him say he wanted to be a writer. We born writers are stuck with it, it's not something we want to do or don't want to do, any more than we want to breathe or not breathe. It's integral to who we are, we're driven crazy by it and driven even crazier not to do it. It's not a matter of choice.

Other things are.

Today I told my immediate boss at work that I wasn't going to apply to move to a different group after all, which means I (and he) will continue to work under the umbrella of a truly awful Director. Why wouldn't try to move groups if I could? The move would mean brushing up on technology that's more marketable, more widespread (IP, layer 3 for you networkers), which would increase opportunities to work from home, flexibly, contract, part-time -- and working for a very reasonable and well-regarded manager. It would mean that my immediate boss, a great guy who I really like, will not be constantly running interference between me (who will not keep quiet) and our mutual Director (who will never see outspokenness as an asset).

But moving groups would also mean leaving a group I really like, and more importantly, a technology (Carrier Ethernet and MPLS for you networkers) that I really really want to learn about. And I have enough experience in my career (meaning, mistakes) to know better than to go against what I "want" or am driven to do at the moment -- practical or not.

Someday I would like to leave network engineering behind and move to writing. Of what sort, I don't know exactly (though I have lots of book and article ideas), but the answer has not yet presented itself in sufficient force to cause that to happen. Right now my "passion" for network engineering exceeds my drive to write. I can't say "passion" to write because that again would imply some sort of choice. Passion fades, shifts, goes in waves. Writing is a nonstop thorn in my side, always tormenting me, always relieving me, always there whether I want it to be or not.

Here's what this blog post tonight should have been:

Today when I picked up the boys from the CDC, Julian was engrossed in an unusually thick book for him. He could only be persuaded to get up and get his knapsack if he could bring the book home with him, he liked it so much. I was floored when I saw that he was reading poetry! Kids' poetry, the excellent popular Shel Silverstein book "Where the sidewalk ends." What a nice thing to find him doing. I think we need to get that book.

I wonder when Shel Silverstein knew he wanted to be a writer.


1 comment:

MommaWriter said...

So the difference, to me? Wanting to be a writer is when you want to write for a living, to the exclusion of all else. I'd write anyway, but if I wasn't being paid for it, I don't think I could exactly call myself a writer...except in the sense you can be a "worrier" or a "procrastinator"...if you know what I mean. But I wasn't sure I wanted to be a writer until I knew I didn't want to work in a lab, despite my fascination with genetics. Then I just wanted to do something I felt competent at...and that turns out to be writing about genetics! Obviously, I still do other stuff...but I'm not sure I'd consider my blog "writing"...it's just journaling or something or other.