I was a great high school student, strong in academics, sports, and extracurricular activities. I was gifted with numbers and even better with words. I was an outstanding test-taker. I excelled in all classes, including English class where in fact I won the medal for best English student in my senior year from a very demanding and inspirational (to me at least) teacher. I wrote poems, stories, and essays that led to that honor.
As I was contemplating colleges and ‘majors’, my first inclination was always to pursue writing as a career. But what did that even mean? I had no interest in journalism as I considered it too limiting, and not nearly creative enough, to satisfy my passion. But I realized that the odds of becoming a best-selling novelist or a major poet were poor. Could I earn a living, could I make money, as a creative writer? Realistically, probably not…
One problem with being a top student in all subjects is that (it seemed at least) that all fields were open to me. So, with a blank slate, I went to the public library to research and analyze career opportunities. Chemical Engineering was the field du jour at the time. It was going to be where the money was. Not at all a bad choice as I had excelled in Math and Chemistry as well.
Achievements in high school do not necessarily correlate to performance in college. I was on full scholarship, but bombed in my freshman year. I was overconfident in my abilities, believed my own press, and was completely bored and frustrated with the course work required by my choice of fields. I switched my major to business, but my best (and most fun) class during undergrad was an elective in creative writing, where I turned in a short story that was recognized as the best during that term.
Still I remained unconvinced, and pursued a career in business, with writing as a hobby. I am semi-retired now after a 50-year career. I made some money, probably much more than I would have made as a writer (although I will never know that for sure). My writing skills served me well throughout my business career, with publication of award-winning business articles, newsletters, cathartic memorandums, etc. I was known for ‘net talk’, the ability to make the most complex topics understandable to all. I did very limited creative writing during that time, mostly poetry in response to critical life events, but my commitment to creative writing was trivial at best.
I have, in my semi-retirement, made a strong commitment to the creative writing that I had so long suppressed. I recently published a book of serious, structured poetry, “Bard Bart - Poetic Rhymes and Punchlines”, am actively working on several other projects, and have undertaken authorship of this creative blog.
It occurs to me that many people, perhaps even most people, have been forced to make a similar choice in their lives, to suppress creative pursuits in favor of a practical career. How many people do what they ‘have to do’ rather than what they ‘want to do’? Precious few are able to combine both, to earn a livelihood doing what they truly love to do.
So this blog is about pursuing and achieving an elusive balance in life. It will explore the idea that we, every one of us, need not choose, we can do both. We can avoid suffering the lifelong conflict of denying our creative instincts. We can be practical in choosing an area to earn a living in, while still actively pursuing the creative activity that we feel most passionate about, in order to create something beautiful as a lasting legacy of our lives.
I hope you will accompany me on this journey! Happy reading!