A Change of Plans

So I finally realised you can’t find your passion overnight.

Back at Intermediate I wanted to be a videogame designer. At college; a videogame programmer with hopes of becoming a videogame designer. At university; a videogame programmer turned videogame critic. Post university; a journalist with hopes of becoming a videogame critic.

In all those years never did I really ask myself if I could sustain any of those careers for my entire life, or even if I would enjoy them. I mean how do you go about that? I thought once I had learned the skills of the job, I could do it. But then university came and I was unprepared. The first year was difficult for me and in the end I realised I didn’t even enjoy programming. Afterwards I was able to complete a Media Studies degree. But at what cost? It was a qualification with no real destination. I guess even today after twenty four years I still don’t really know what I’m doing.

Is life just a game of trial and error? A never-ending series of wrong turns on the road to nowhere?

Last Friday I walked into a small room in the bowels of Massey University Wellington to discuss my prospects of becoming a journalist. I had taken that same interview a year earlier. Needless to say this time wasn’t any easier. The same questions were asked, but as I had put off practice entirely I made the same mistakes. I was awkward. Unconvincing. And most of all not even sure of myself.

Was I taking this route as a roundabout way of becoming a game critic? The same games I seem to be getting burned out on. The same structures, mechanics, and horrible stories again and again? I sold off 46 games from my collection the day of the interview. For such an investment in my time, my money, my identity, I thought it would be hard to let go. But it wasn’t. I didn’t feel anything.

That morning I spent a good thirty minutes sitting on a park bench waiting for the train that would take me to town. I sat there thinking about my future and seriously considered not turning up to the interview at all. A friend convinced me to do it anyway. Even though the outlook is low I’m glad I gave it one last shot. If anything to really cement in my head that being a journalist wasn’t really what I wanted to do.

Grant Hannis, the programme director for the Graduate Diploma in Journalism asked me his last question, “If you don’t get selected what will you do?”. My reply involved a bumbling “I guess I’ll just carry on with my writing.”

A few weeks before that a friend asked me what my greatest passion was. I replied I’d like to write something that someone would buy. Still as iffy as ever, but I think I’m starting to get somewhere.

I recently joined the Kiwi Writers Forum and I hear there’s even a local writer’s club in my area. I’ve seen other writers release ebooks with interesting pricing models and of course there’s the ever increasing popularity of tablets, iPads and Kindles. There’s plenty of opportunity out there.

For the meantime I’ll keep working as a temp to survive, and I’ll try to write around it — just like I’m doing now.

As for the content of the writing I do have a thing for short stories at the moment, and that seems like the perfect place to start. Even with that focus things are still pretty open for me. With any luck one day I’d love to write my own comic book or television series. A full-on novel isn’t one of my all time goals, but one day I might just be in the right state of mind.

I want to write something that excites you. Terrifies you. Angers you. Something that makes you laugh, or even shed a tear.

My two favourite writers, Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughn, write simply the best characters and dialogue for their respective mediums, and I want to create something of their quality. I know I’m setting the bar extremely high here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

4 thoughts on “A Change of Plans

  1. Take heart Mike some of us are over 50 and still don’t know what to do with our lives! Others have spent over half their lives in professions that they hate.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more about who you are being than what you are doing that matters.

    Ultimately we can spend too much head time trying to figure life out rather than enjoying what we have right here and now.

    What is important though is to keep the lines of communication open and to be prepared to ask for feedback from others particularly those whose opinions you value and trust.

  2. Take heart Mike some of us are over 50 and still don’t know what to do with our lives! Others have spent over half their lives in professions that they hate.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more about who you are being than what you are doing that matters.

    Ultimately we can spend too much head time trying to figure life out rather than enjoying what we have right here and now.

    What is important though is to keep the lines of communication open and to be prepared to ask for feedback from others particularly those whose opinions you value and trust.

  3. The beauty of chasing a career in writing is that it can evolve and grow with you. No matter what stage in your life you’re at, there’s still typically some way that you can write about your current passions.

    The whole reason I pursued a career in journalism in the first place was because I desperately wanted to be a music journalist. These days, while I still love music, I’m nowhere near as obsessive as I used to be, and I’ve deviated from music journalism. But after a few years in the trade, I think I’ve found a couple of niche areas that I genuinely enjoy and feel comfortable writing about.

    Good luck with your application, Mike. You have a natural talent when it comes to writing that I’m certain will only be further refined in a journalism course. And although I know you can feel uncertain about where it will take you, sometimes you just need to throw yourself in the deep end and hope that the path will begin to reveal itself. A course like this can also give you a good taster and understanding of what’s out there.

  4. The beauty of chasing a career in writing is that it can evolve and grow with you. No matter what stage in your life you’re at, there’s still typically some way that you can write about your current passions.

    The whole reason I pursued a career in journalism in the first place was because I desperately wanted to be a music journalist. These days, while I still love music, I’m nowhere near as obsessive as I used to be, and I’ve deviated from music journalism. But after a few years in the trade, I think I’ve found a couple of niche areas that I genuinely enjoy and feel comfortable writing about.

    Good luck with your application, Mike. You have a natural talent when it comes to writing that I’m certain will only be further refined in a journalism course. And although I know you can feel uncertain about where it will take you, sometimes you just need to throw yourself in the deep end and hope that the path will begin to reveal itself. A course like this can also give you a good taster and understanding of what’s out there.

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