Today I realised something truly horrible. I'm addicted to writing. Not a spare moment goes by without me looking for pen and paper. Even if I'm jotting down a point-form synopsis between laying out pages at work I start feeling twitchy if something isn't on the go.
Thing is, this started when I was still at primary school. Whenever the teachers confiscated the books I'd sneakily read during class (and back then I used to be a straight-A student, which annoyed the living hell out of them when I never paid attention to their lessons), I'd settle for second best by creating my own "magazines" or writing letters to my friends.
Geez, and this got worse during high school. Granted, I'd stopped being so annoyingly studious, (decidedly B-average by then all the way to matric, luv) but the reading and writing problem got worse and worse. By age thirteen I tried writing my first novel, some oddball little SF concoction that never saw the light of day past the first two chapters.
But that's when it hit me. I knew I simply had to write. A brief flirtation with being a Goth-rocker a la Marilyn Manson and a foray into photography afterward, the writing bug bit back hard despite the best efforts of a snarky now-ex who told me "Your writing is too romantic".
So, you may ask why I didn't pursue a literary career earlier on. Simply put, everyone, including my teachers, parents and friends told me, "You can never make a career out of writing."
This went as far as me being accepted for electrical engineering at a university of technology where my father worked. "Be sensible," everyone said. "Get a proper career off the ground, then later when you've got money, pursue your passions."
But all the while this desire to put words down remained itching beneath my skin. Studying a BA in English or literature was out of the question, due to financial reasons and, besides, a degree in "bugger all" won't put a roof over your head.
Thanks be to all the mercies I saw sense six months before I was to start my tertiary education. A hankering need to somehow be involved in the media industry saw me change my study path to graphic design. I figured I'd eventually sit in the editor's chair if I started as a graphic designer, even if I couldn't go get a larny degree in journalism.
Bah. It's been a circuitous route. Doing extremely well when it came to writing about advertising, graphic design and art history should already have been a hint. I should have badgered the folks to let me study that BA after all. Nevertheless, I don't regret my stints in magazine publishing and below the line marketing communications, and now newspaper publishing. I've learnt a lot about how to communicate and how the printing industry works.
But I can't help but wondering how things would have turned out if I'd listened to my heart from the word "go". So, I guess what I'm saying is it's never too late for you to sit back and figure out what your passion is then make a go at it. If you are, however, on the cusp of young adulthood, don't waste your opportunity to make a go at your passion a lot sooner. Life has a rather nasty of getting in the way of your passions when you're trying to make ends meet.
Perhaps a decade of living and working has given me life experience I'd been lacking at age eighteen but I sometimes wonder how things would have turned out otherwise. Would I have written that bestseller by now? This deep-rooted urge to create, to put words down, was shoved aside for so long that it's almost a sin. Thank goodness I've managed to fight my way into a situation where my talents can shine, but how many people out there have been denying this impulse to write, paint, make music, sing, dance...?