A long time I was cleaning out some of old junk and came across some of my husband’s notebooks from college. Now, these are always interesting. His notes are filled with about 25% notes, 70% drawings and ideas for video games featuring elaborate robots, aliens, and fantasy figures, and 5% random thoughts that he was thinking of when he was not paying attention to the lecture. I love to browse through them. Every time I do, I ask my husband to do something more with those game ideas, maybe build a game or write a novel based on it. I generally ignore the boring notes about library science. What I really love are those random thoughts. There is one that is extra-special to me. He had written:
“Food critic – That’s a job”
I asked him for an explanation. He told me that he thought that being a food critic would be an awesome job. You go to restaurants, get special treatment, eat amazing food, and then critique it. It would especially ideal for my husband who so adventurous in his food. Since then, this became a private joke between us. Whenever, we came across some interesting work, we would look at each other, grin and say ‘That’s a job!”.
A few days ago, I realized that I love writing and being a writer “that’s a job”. I wondered why I hadn’t become a writer right out of college and even why I didn’t take college classes to become a writer. I tried to remember my earliest ambitions and with some shock I realized that the first time I really had an ambition was when I was in 6th grade and I had wanted to be *gasp* a ‘writer’!
I moved to a new school in 6th grade and I had a wonderful English teacher who made me realize my love for the language. She took the time to sit with me and corrected some of my repetitive mistakes – I didn’t know the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’. I spelled ‘John’ as ‘Jhon’. This memory suddenly came back to me, I had written a story about as protagonist named ‘Jhon’ and she had read it. She sat with me, pointed out my strengths and weaknesses and encouraged me to write. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, this English teacher moved to another school the next year. By the time I got another great English teacher in 9th grade, Indian culture had effectively brainwashed me that you cannot get anywhere in life unless you have a career in science.
In 7th grade, we had a new biology teacher, who helped me discover my love for biology and I forgot all about wanting to be a writer. I still loved my English classes in high school but I had fully embraced science by then. I did great with science in college and in graduate school I combined my love of food/nutrition with biology and became a food microbiologist.
You make plans and then life happens. I wanted to join the food industry and climb up the corporate ladder (now I realize how I would have hated that: you do kind of get to know yourself better in your 30s). Then about 5 years ago, I stumbled back into writing. I worked part-time as a freelance writer picking up writing jobs here and there on the internet. Even when I came back to India, 3 years ago, I initially worked in a food research company albeit in as a public relations officer. I had 2 profiles on naukri.com – one for AB the scientist and one for AB the writer and somehow despite having less experience ,the writer one always got more hits (maybe the profile showcased my writing skills?). So the science was not meant to be.
I got my current job when the HR manager at work called me after seeing my naukri profile. I was out on a jog and wasn’t very interested. I came home and saw his email and decided the place was too far away. A couple of days later, I mentioned it to my mother who pointed out that it wasn’t really that far. So i decided to just go check it out. I went there at 10 am and ended up staying till 7 pm taking their tests one after another and having my final interview and getting the job.
The best thing about my current job was that it made me rediscover my love of writing. It is true that we don’t to much ‘creative writing’ at my job but it just felt so good to be back among words! It made me remember how my original ambition had been to be a writer. It felt great to be surrounded by others who shared an equal love for writing and reading. Writing does the same thing for me that my art does. It releases stress in a creative endeavor while actively engaging my intellect. Art does that for me when my brain is tired and I don’t want to think, but just want to create. Maybe I am more of an artist than a scientist after all. I always used to think I am not ‘untidy’ enough to be a true artist. I detest clutter and find comfort in logic and patterns and I used to think that made me more a scientist than an artist.
I think I really have found my calling with writing and will never be far away from writing again. Maybe some day I will be able to make money being some kind of science writer. Now ‘that would be a job’!