Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up was a journey, but I can say there was never a point in my life that I had no idea. I always had a goal to aim for, always had a vision of my future career and I guess that's what sets me apart from a lot of people. I know so many people who just have no idea what they want or what they're good at, and I can't imagine being in that predicament. Dreams are what I run on, they push me. My dreams, no matter how big, are what I strive for even if they change. And they did.

When I was a child, I liked to draw. Nothing major. Some art kids say they were born with a brush in their hands or something poetic like that, but not me. Sure, I was pretty creative when I doodled. My brother was really good at copying drawings, but he would always point out that he couldn't create things like I could. But I was insistent that I was only pretty good, and for some reason, that dashed any ideas of me being an artist. I thought I just wasn't good enough. My sisters would say that's what school's for, for getting better, but I wouldn't have it. I didn't think I had the natural talent.

I grew up a little and I went into high school knowing, without a doubt, that I wanted to be a writer. I guess that stems back to 7th grade, when my sisters first introduced me to novels. It was like love at first sight. I couldn't put them down. I was inspired. I wanted to create them. So I went for it. I dove into the writing world. I took summer courses at my local community college. I took writing, learned I wasn't so interested in writing essays or articles, then took creative writing and I fell in love. My senior year of high school, I finally had a couple electives free to take creative writing. But I also took Art 2. I thought, eh, could be fun. As expected, I aced all my creative writing assignments. My teacher loved me. But something was happening in Art 2 that I didn't expect. I was good at it and that caught my attention.

Now, let me rewind a little. You remember how I was saying I wanted to be a writer and yada yada? Well, my mother and Tina was always pestering me that I couldn't just be a novelist right out of college. I needed something more practical as a job, and I could always write in my spare time and if I ever hit it big, and I intended to, then I could just quit. But Tara, the lawyer who is creative but chose a non-creative occupation (that she loves nonetheless) and who likes to live vicariously through me, told me to just go for it--major in creative writing and throw all caution to the wind. I was stuck in the middle.

Well, I started to rethink this decision. I could try some type of art major like graphic design (whatever the hell that was). It didn't sound like a terrible idea. It wouldn't hurt to try, right?

Summer after high school was pretty groundbreaking. I got the Creative Writing award at graduation, of course. But my focus suddenly wasn't on writing. I was suddenly fascinated with my seemingly new found ability to draw. I always knew I had some talent, but so did all my siblings. But something new was happening to me. It started with a picture in my head, a simple picture of a silly character that I had just thought up. I just had to draw him down. And I did, he was a fatter, brown version of Gumbo with a polka-dotted top hat and a matching tie. And for some reason, as if my hand had a mind of its own, I swirled his eye. That was the beginnings of my art. I started to pop out these simple sharpie drawings on cardstock, one after the other. My characters were odd, but what I always thought was kind of interesting was that I utilized my story telling ability into my drawings. These characters had individual personalities, and lot of my drawings had some type of narrative.

I don't know at what exact point I gave up my dream of being a novelist. I guess it was more a matter of me growing up and learning more about myself. Because I know that deep down I'm not intersted in writing novels. Sure, I can write wonderful short stories. But short stories take me a day or two to write, while whole novels take months, sometimes years. I'm not saying I'm lazy, because when I'm passionate about something, I work to the bone. No, it's not laziness. It's that I know myself enough to know that I'm not interested enough to write something as complicated and invested as a novel. I don't get into the same zone I get into when I'm painting or drawing or sewing a doll, that complete focus that makes everything else around me fade away.

This decision was big, trust me. I'm a focused person and when I change my whole vision of my future, it's big. Since it's changed, it's still been a journey. I'm still learning what I can do and it's been fun. I didn't completely give creative writing up. It's my minor. I may not want to be a novelist, but I've settled on the dream of writing and illustrating my own children's books. And as time goes by and I'm taking more art classes, I'm adding to my list of dreams. There just never seems to be enough.

It's funny how when I made new friends last year, they'd look at my wall of work and ask me how long I've been doing art. They always seemed to be baffled when I say I just started that summer.

Parting words of wisdom: Dream big.


Tara said...

Laura, you sure you aren't a novelist because that post was a friggin' novel! Bazinga! Actually, I learned a lot from your post. Sometimes, I forget that you haven't been doing art for that long. And you reminded me of the brown dude! Hey O!

ps. Sometimes I feel like a caricature of myself. Is that weird?
pps. I like the word "caricature."

Laura said...

Well, I don't like the non-word "bazinga." And what the heck does that even mean you feel like a caricature of yourself? You're a weirdo.

Ps. How can you forget! You don't even know me!

Tara said...

What do you mean what do you mean? You don't even know ME!

"Bazinga" is from Big Bang Theory. You should watch it.