Okay. So the original Leonard McCoy never said "Damn it" (cussing was frowned upon). The line did make it into the latest Star Trek movie. Fellow fans will notice my word switch. I'm a writer.
Most romance writers have day jobs or careers. I won't presume to know all the reasons why, but I've come across 'love of their career' or 'primary income source' the most. Being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) is also a career in my book. The question is, at what point do we identify ourselves primarily as writers? When does the question "What do you do?" or the "Occupation" box on forms get the answer writer? At what point do we feel confident enough to brave the stigma of being a romance writer? If you simply say 'writer', the question about what you write inevitably comes next...followed by the eye roll and smirk.
I'm an eye doctor. Yep. An optometrist to be exact (Sinara is my pen name). I use the present tense because I still hold and maintain an active license. However, I haven't seen patients in a couple of years. I've been busy raising three boys and writing. I've always been an avid reader and writer. As a child, I kept a journal and wrote poetry. I had pictures taken of me sleeping with a book on my face. Unfortunately, I was raised in a family where 'the arts' weren't career material. They were something you did as a hobby. Right.
I'm a writer. I say it now with confidence and pride. For the longest time, I struggled with putting my career as a doctor behind me. I felt guilty for the years and tuition invested in that career. I felt guilty about stepping away from a profession I was successful and good at. It took tons of introspection before I came to the conclusion that education and experience is NEVER a waste. It becomes an integral part of who we are and it, no doubt, influences how or what we write. Observation and experience make up a writer's data files. They fuel our creativity and give us insight into our characters. What's important is finding your true passion and embracing it. I think it was Oprah that once said that the most successful people are those that love what they're doing. Could you imagine Bill Gates hating computers? I love writing romance and, although I'm still unpublished, it's my career. Income or money isn't mentioned in my Webster's definition of career.
With the current number of centarians increasing at a rate of 7% a year (wikipedia) and the average human lifespan ever increasing, having more than one career in a lifetime isn't that ludicrous. If there's some rule about having one career in a lifetime, I've broken it and I'm glad I did. Careers are like dating. Sometimes you have to try a few before you find the right one.
Do you currently have more than one profession and, if you do, which one do you identify yourself as? What did it take for you to come out of the closet as a writer and what internal or external forces were you up against?
Happy Memorial Day! My thoughts and prayers are with all our veterans and soldiers.