Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Writing is Like the NBA

Growing, even in the snow.
One of my favorite things to do is to settle into an oversized armchair in a coffee shop for a few hours and write. I’ve enjoyed working in coffee shops since my freshman year of college, when I would often take the shuttle down the road to Starbucks to get away from campus and get some homework done. This past Saturday found me at Starbucks again to research for an upcoming article.

With my laptop on one side and my notebook and pen in the other, but no textbook in sight, it didn’t really look like I was a student, but I was definitely working on something. After I watched his laptop for a few minutes while he got up, the man next to me asked me what I was doing, and I told him that I was a writer. I think it was the first time that I ever described myself simply as a writer. So of course he asked a few more questions about that, and I told him that I wrote for women’s magazines as well as a personal blog.

Then he made one of my favorite analogies that I’ve ever heard concerning writing. He said that writing was a tough job, because it is like the NBA: everyone wants to do it. Few talented basketball players ever make it to the NBA, as few skilled writers are ever able to make a living off their craft. I was inspired rather than discouraged; it was just such an apt metaphor, how could I not admire it? Also, little known fact: I was a big NBA fan in junior high, around the time when the local NBA team was doing well in the playoffs. So I know a thing or two about the NBA, and his metaphor was spot on.

The man asked if I was from Connecticut, at which point I said, no, I’m from California. People almost always respond with, “Why did you leave California?” At which point I smile, and explain that my husband is attending grad school here. Bonus points for that sentence: it quickly discourages any other intentions a person may have in starting a conversation with me. Yet I wasn’t picking up that vibe from this man at all (and my creeper radar is usually at full blast), especially when he began to ask more questions about Aaron and his field of study.

After learning that Aaron was studying economics, the man said that we were both going into hard fields!

That’s true. However, I started to think about it more after we ended our conversation. We are both working towards difficult fields, but we both really love what we hope to work at full time someday. Aaron is incredibly innovative when it comes to economics and policies to improve poverty. And every time I start to get discouraged about breaking into the writing field, my love for writing is always reaffirmed. I’d love to make money writing, but it’s not about the money for me. I write because I love to write, because I need to write, because I am a whole person when I write.

It doesn’t matter to us that we’re trying to break into hard fields. We love what we do, and we’re willing to put up with the lack of money and difficult econometrics classes to pursue our dreams.

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