Every single child on Earth has probably been asked ten little words at least one million times over the course of his or her life. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s actually comical considering middle-aged adults (in professions they most likely do not enjoy) questioning the aspirations of a mere five-year-old. It’s even more comical that I, with my large five-year-old eyes and limitless imagination, would respond without hesitation, “an author.”
Words fascinated me in ways that most little girls were intrigued by the new blonde Barbie doll. I picked apart sentences before I even knew what they meant, and when my mother read me to sleep, I pressed my tiny fingertips to the page as if my touch would bring the words to life. I was obsessed with the idea that printed words could have more meaning than conversations, and there could be more excitement in a folded bundle than the world around me.
As I grew older, I ditched the idea of becoming an author because my peers were considering more “practical professions.” To this day, I have imagined myself in too many occupations to name. I already know I would be a well-informed doctor or a quick-thinking lawyer, and I have considered being a headstrong hospital administrator or even a social advocate. I have always been told that I could do anything that I set my mind to, and I whole-heartedly believe that. Of course, I have always wanted to write a novel.
“Macy, you love writing, so why don’t you just write a book?”
It’s not that I don’t believe in myself. It’s just that I’m the girl whose attention span is a fraction of a second. I obsess over ideas or people or circumstances, and the next day I’m captured by something else. I find myself staring off into space because an idea pops into my mind, and I get lost in a world that isn’t my own. But I bore myself. I always believe that there’s something better. I struggle to follow through with my ideas because they rarely excite me.
Books are like an escape. Your world is something that you’re stuck in, and no matter how many times your head touches your pillow, you’re going to wake up in the same bubble. Writing a book is like taking a one-way flight into territory that isn’t your own. Even if it’s my story, the characters take over in the end. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m scared of writing a book. Perhaps, I’m terrified of the idea that my characters could just possibly have a more thrilling life than my own. Or maybe I’m even worried that my life could end up like theirs.
Or here’s a scarier thought: maybe the lives of my characters could unknowingly reflect an aspect of my own life.
I’ve always wanted to be an author. I’ve wanted my 12-point font Times New Roman symbols to capture the heart of someone I’ll never meet. But books can be too powerful. I don’t want a fictional character to have such a strong hold on the life of an individual. At the same time, I’m scared my words will mean absolutely nothing. I’ll never write a novel because maybe I’ve read too many of them. I’ll never be content with myself because I know that I’ll never be a Barbara Delinsky or Jodi Picoult. And the thing is, I never want to be like them. Because their books turned me into this obsessive, word-crazy, over-imaginative, never-complacent girl who always craves something she’ll never have. I don’t want to be an author because I’ll turn into an inflated and overly insane version of myself.
And the more I think about it, maybe that’s exactly why I should publish a book.