If you’re a kid and you want to be a writer, it’s unlikely that your elders are gonna give you a hard time about it; it is, ostensibly, a pursuit that’ll bolster your grades if you really get a grip on it and since we’re all pretty much in agreement about the necessity of a good education it’ll be looked upon as a productive and felicitous pastime. It’s also – as far as youthful hobbies go – rather quiet and inexpensive. A parent’s delight.
If in college you sustain this interest and decide to pursue a degree in English or creative writing, as these are the subjects of your forte and passion, you might get some hemming and hawing about how law would really be a lot more lucrative, journalism more secure, but, again, slightly fewer but still pretty much all of us are in agreement about the sanctity and value of a college education, whatever its focus, and so fine, go ahead, they’ll support you. Now that they’re paying so much money for your education you better believe they’re fans of your knack for reading and writing.
And the glory of this, for the young writer, is that your parents will suspect – on account of how discreet you hopefully are – that school work is really your main focus and writing just a pastime, when in fact you approach the two in reverse order of priority. College, with occasional interruptions for exams and term papers and classes, will afford you four years of leisure reading and writing exercises that should make you maybe just about nearly halfway ready for the big leagues.
Then you graduate. Writing is still your priority, as always, but there’s nothing to mask it with. You’re living with your folks again and they’re so delighted with your diploma and all these writing skills you’ve fostered – you’ll make a fine journalist; or, better yet, you’ll get into advertising and use all that witty rhetoric to convince people that Pepsi is better than Coke and good grief how your wallet will bulge and aren’t you excited do you need any help with your resume…
So now you’ve been so discreet about your writing over the years as to become blindingly sensitive about discussing your work, your intentions, routine. Except how are you now to explain to your parents that you’d happily pay them, say, a severed toe for every month they allow you to mooch and stay home and write? Do you even really want that? You know that the thought of spending your days at a cash register gives you a cancerous feeling in your gut, but is it not more practical and noble and adult to just confront that feeling and get a job? Would it really be better to spend another year at home?
What if the pressure coming from every direction is not to get an average job but to start at the bottom rung of something you’ll ascend over time, a career track? How do you say no? Should you? If you do say no, what alternative do you present?
How can you take any of this even halfway seriously when you realize after careful scrutiny that your problem here has been the conundrum of how many melodramatic movies in which a glossy-eyed kid yells at their skeptical parent that they’re “gonna be somebody” and so on, so on?