To Be Or Not To Be

As a writer and a college student, I feel that writing is my hobby while my schoolwork is leading up to a degree (in chemistry) which will lead to a job. Everyone always says that writers should not give up their day jobs, which is why I am in college, hoping to get a degree and a job, instead of sitting at home writing 24/7, which is what I would be doing if I had the money.

I've been having that little debate with myself pretty much entire life. "What do want to be when you grow up?" Five year old me, ten year old me, and even fifteen year old me, all said that I wanted to be a writer. Upon hearing this, my family members cringed. First of all, I would never make any money, and second of all I am "too smart not to be a doctor," or something along those lines. My chemistry teacher in lab told me that I have a surgeon's hands, and then it was me that cringed. Personally, I don't feel as smart as people tell me I am. But hey! I still have to use my brain when I write! Do they really think it's that easy to write a novel?

So I am in college with a major in chemistry, hoping to get a measly job as a pharmacy technician at a hospital or most likely Walgreens, but I still have that nagging voice in my head telling me to be an English major. But then I look around and do research and talk to people about it, and a lot of people with a Masters in English don't find it worth mentioning. My high school math teacher had a Masters in English and a Masters in Mathematics, yet he ended up as a math teacher. If I double major in Chemistry and English, chances are I'll still end up as a pharmacy tech. Of course I'm still taking English classes just for fun, but they're not really amounting to anything.

So my questions to you nice folks out there on the interwebs are: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you follow your dreams? If not, what changed your mind? And to my writer friends, is writing to you a job or a hobby? Is it beneficial to study English in college?

That was a lot of questions, sorry. :) Also I was talking about myself a lot in this post. Let's just say I was using myself as an example.

Peace, Aimee


  1. There have been a lot of detour interests along the way, but the biggies have been photography, writing, and archaeology.

    I majored in history, got a masters in anthropology, and work in information technology to pay the bills until the day I hope comes when my writing might be able to support me. (Gotta hold out for the dream!)

    I've done archaeology, and I'm glad I pursued it, but it was really not much more reliable for income than writing.

    Photography will always be a hobby, I'm sure, because there's a heavy initial cost to even start getting your name out there, making it even more daunting, I think, than writing.

    I took a few electives in literature and writing while I was in college. I think my own writing has benefited more from my breadth of experiences than it would have from a higher percentage of formal training in writing.

    On the other hand, I have friends who were writing majors and who were English majors. Of the two writing majors that come to mind, both have day jobs and part-time work selling articles and one works on a novel sometimes. Of the English majors, most are teaching English or working in a non-related job. One is writing part-time, just like the rest of the world.

    Hope there's something in there you find useful. lol

  2. Thanks Nevets! You're right, and I've always known that I probably can't support myself on only my writing. I really don't want to be a teacher, though if I had to be, I'd be an English teacher. That was really helpful, actually, though I pretty much knew that people were going to say what you did.

  3. Some people do make their living with their writing, and while I think it's important to have a realistic assessment, I also think it's important to not give up on that if it's what you want.

    Me, I never wanted to get into professional writing except creative writing, and I made some choices early in my life that put me in a position that I can't just throw all my energy into writing my novel, or else I probably would.

    It's not easy to make a living writing, but if you're good and it's your dream and your passion, don't let any of us jaded folks discourage you. :)

  4. Since I was young, I wanted to be a writer, but when it came time for college, I doubted my abilities and chose instead a marketable major. That fell through because I hated it. Six years of college, three schools, and five majors later, I still didn't have degree. I might as well have spent that time and energy on something I love and something, it turns out, I'm pretty good at (in my humble opinion).