Wednesday, January 30, 2008

All In Good Time

by Hannah Roveto

I am an author. I do not put these words out there lightly. My work-in-progress is almost – not quite – in agents’ hands, and I am acutely aware of the steps from here toward publication, the uncertainty, the dangers, the challenges. Some day, though, someone will ask, “When did you know you were an author?” and this is what I will say:

The school system in my town is under huge pressure to prepare each and every child for Ivy League colleges, because children who fail in the universal quest to become professional athletes then have a back-up plan. This is what I tell other parents as a joke, although some do take a moment to realize I am kidding. Parents check other people’s kids status on Honor Roll, ask how many A’s were earned, in what subjects. Where they get A’s reflects talent, skill, arenas of future success.

Thus, you can imagine the reaction when I said something along the lines of the following aloud: “Just because a child gets an A doesn’t mean it’s a talent, and the one who doesn’t get an A might be destined to do something great in that subject. There are other factors. Like just plain time.”

Heresy. So I asked them to consider my own journey. I was going to be a veterinarian when I was young. But A’s in math and science did not lead me there. I started college with a major in Soviet Studies and International Relations, and A’s did not get me to the United Nations, either. I ended up in the journalism school, and took my first job in public relations because they would pay me to write. I realized I’d been a writer all my life.

Since I was able to spell, I filled notebooks with stories and story fragments, but fiction is without a doubt its own unique alchemy. I mastered business writing, and finally five years ago sat down to try my hand at fiction with serious intent. It was something I’d dreamed of, played with, but never really committed myself to at that level. (You know what I mean!) Then I put myself out there for a writers group, looking for people whom I trusted enough to push me, and I found them. Two years later, I am finishing revisions on a novel that I believe in. Better yet, my Writers Group believes, too.

“So,” I concluded, “it took me this long to become an Author.” The word slipped by everyone else, but to me, it hung in the air. Now that it is out there, aloud, I own it in a way I never have before. I felt it. Not only a Writer, an Author. Right now. It's time.


kristen spina said...

Hannah, this is lovely. Yes, an author, a writer--you have every right to claim it. I wonder how many of us really end up where our college aspirations take us...

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thank you, Kristen. Dare I ask what you wanted to be once upon a time? I always envied people who knew exactly what they wanted to do at a young age, yet somehow I always did want to write. It just wasn't time yet for the fiction. It would have been nice if it gelled a lot sooner, but I do understand fully that I really wasn't ready then the way I am now.

Therese said...

Hannah, I like how you defended the illogic of drawing such sweeping conclusions from a child's report card. I've made that argument, too, using me as an example: I was ID'd as "gifted" but my grades--especially in high school--suggested that the ID was wrong, or that I was a slacker.

Neither was true; I just had some really hard years (family issues).

My sixth grade teacher might have predicted my present outcome, but people who knew me when I was a women's clothing salesperson, a Civil Service clerk, a retail store assistant manager, an at-home mom, a real estate agent, a single-parent used-cars salesperson, or even a Sociology major in college in my thirties, never would have.

(Ha, there's my bio in a nutshell!)

Keep going, and prove your point even more vividly--I believe in you, too!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Yes, Hannah--you ARE an author. And yes, to how grades don't necessarily mean squat. I started college pre-med. Then I decided to major in English (I think college chemistry had something to do with that!). Some twenty-plus years after college, I decided to embrace what my 8th grade English teacher told my mom, "Judy's a writer."

You're right--it's your time!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Where were you people 30 years ago? I, too, once wanted to be a vet. Mostly because my friend did and I really had not other aspirations. Poor grades and a lack of vet schools killed that, though I majored in biology.

I also envied people who always knew what they wanted to be but I never did. Still don't, though now I just think it's ADD. I always wrote and always got good grades for it but no one ever suggested it as a career and I never thought of it.

In retrospect, I'm glad I got all that science out of the way. I can go back and read War and Peace (some day, maybe), but I'd never want to go near an organic chemistry book again (shudder!). But I love science, so I'm happy to keep up with Discover magazine!

For now, I'm a writer by the BIC definition (Butt In Chair), in that I do sit down and write. I'm no author...yet.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Interesting that so many "science types" are really writers! And the fabulous stories this group could churn out together, about the chemistry major who quit veterinary school to sell car parts? I know now the BIC definition matters most (love that). We may be able to do lots of things, but the bottom (ha!) line is that we are compelled to sit and write and write and write. Keep on going and it all comes around in time!


Larramie said...

Timing is everything, Hannah, and -- with your rich, varied background -- oh the stories you will write.

Lisa said...

This is your time Hannah. I am smiling and I have a good feeling about you -- that something exciting is just around the corner.

kristen spina said...

What did I want to be once upon a time? My problem was I couldn't stick with anything. In high school, the dreams were varied and lacking a true commitment. But by the time I hit my third year in college and started taking journalism classes, I knew I had found my calling. At that point, I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. I held on to that dream for a long time despite the fact that I never had any success making it happen. Great post and great comments!