Guest blog: Following the writing bug, no matter what

Margo Candela

Editors note:  Our guest blogger is Margo Candela. She has released her fourth novel, Good Bye to All That, is available now.  She was recently named by LA Magazine’s Best Beach Read of 2010. To know more about her, click here to go to her site or here to see her Twitter page

I don’t recall ever taking a vocational test in high school. You know the test guidance counselors used to figure out what a teenager should do with their fast approaching working life? Even if I had, I doubt my answers would have pointed toward author. At that time, I was just an avid reader with horrible penmanship but with great typing skills. (Hand’s down, typing was not only the best elective, but the most useful class I ever took.) I was never worried about graduating, but was slightly concerned about what I’d do with myself afterward. In any case, I made it through high school without ever seeing a guidance consoler or anyone asking me what I planned to do with my life.

My parents, though, did expect me to do something that involved some form of honest work that paid enough for me to eventually move out of their house. They assumed I’d get an office job like my older siblings had done before me and be content with the security of steady employment. Instead, I enrolled at my local community college, figured out that I didn’t want to be a pre-school teacher or a social worker and went on to major in journalism.

It took a while, but I knew I wanted to write and that I needed to get a job. Journalism merged the two for me and, as my parents weren’t paying my college tuition, they had no say in my decision. After getting my degree, I wrote for magazines and websites and did well enough to pay my rent and go out to dinner once in a while, but things like health insurance and someday retiring were out of my reach. When I’d visit my parents, they’d invariably ask at some point when I planned to settle down and get a real job. And each time I’d tell them that I would as soon the one I wanted opened up.

You’d think with four novels published, my parents would worry less but, if anything, they worry a whole lot more about me. They’ve realized that having a daughter who insists on writing means she’s committed to a risky way to make a living. They’re proud of me and what I’ve achieved, but I’m no more special than my siblings who’ve settled into jobs that they’ve been at for years, if not decades.

I, on the other hand, never kept a job longer than six months during the height of the boom and I was never happier. And I was happiest yet when I committed myself (and my future) to writing even knowing there were inherent risks and uncertainty in my choice. I always assure my parents that I have no plans to retire and will keep on writing until there’s nothing left type. What I do makes me happy and, in the end, it’s what parents want for their children.

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