Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 2, 2014

03/02/2014 — Lee Ward: Bound by the pen in career choice

ASHLAND — There is no escaping some things in life; I should have known being a writer is one of them.

When I was a child, before I learned to read and write, I wrote and drew on everything. Although I don’t remember writing on the walls in the house, I couldn’t  forget about writing on bedsheets because I never heard the end of it from my mother.

It was easy to break me of that habit because I discovered Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. They were hardback books containing three or four popular novels in a shortened version published, of course, by Reader’s Digest. Although I still couldn’t read, I could use crayons to write and draw in the blank pages at the beginning and end of the books. When people came to visit, I could grab a book, sit beside them on the couch and “read” them the “book” I wrote and had “published.” I guess some adults might have found the behavior adorable, but again, my parents did not.

After all that inappropriate writing, my parents should have known I would grow up to be a writer, but they continued to hope for a doctor or lawyer. I can’t blame them: unless you achieve Stephen King status, you make way more money doctoring and lawyering than you do writing.

In high school, we took an achievement test that also recommended career paths based on our aptitude. It was recommended that I go into a health-care field or social work. I was too squeamish to work in health care and I didn’t really understand what social work was. It didn’t matter, though, because I wasn’t listening to any career advise. I already decided I was, and would be, a writer.

A few years ago, just for kicks, I took a career aptitude test at a local library. I was advised to go into HVAC. Hilarious, I thought, especially as I didn’t know what HVAC was at the time. (I have since learned it stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, which makes it even funnier.)

A week or so ago, a test for the perfect career for you was floating around Facebook. Not that I would change careers at this point, but I decided to take it and see what crazy career might be suggested for me.

I don’t know how many options were available or what they were, and I don’t know what I said to deserve it, but the test pegged me as a writer.

Not that I take it as an insult. In fact, there is a television commercial about retirement investing that asks people what their fantasy occupation is and the first person to comment said she’d like to be a writer.

I often joke that I’m a writer because I can’t do math. That’s not entirely a joke; I can’t do math and I sought a career for avoiding math. The real reason I wanted to be a writer, however, is that I wanted to write. I even needed to write. It’s a blessing to do something for a living that you need to do. Most aren’t so lucky.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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