Luck, Chance or Fate? – By Boakyewaa Glover
I was reading my friend Abimbola’s note on Facebook the other day, and something struck me. Abi is a good writer, has a knack for infusing humor into her writing. As you read, you can picture her saying those words to you, her eyes rolling in irritation as she tries to get her point across. The thing that struck me is Abi isn’t a full time writer. My mind then wandered to Nana Awere Damoah, author of Excursions in my Mind, Tales From Different Tails, whose Facebook notes are also interesting and funny and spot on.
I cracked up when I read his ‘old timers love letter’. And Nana isn’t a full time writer either. He’s actually an Engineer. Then there’s Ayesa Atta, author of Harmattan Rain, who started out doing science before taking the big bold step to pursue writing. I just found out my friend Vonde Nettey is working on a novel, and he’s a pharmacist. Akua Abeasi also just shared she loves to write. And of course, there’s me, full-time Management Consultant, who spends long nights and weekends writing.
Why aren’t we full time writers, curled up somewhere with a pen, paper or computer and writing all day? Of course, the immediate answer is writing doesn’t pay. No doubt, it doesn’t, at least not in the beginning. Each time I tell this old friend of mine how I’d love to just write all day, he says its irresponsible of me, I must think of my future children. Money must be made. He’s right.
But what’s the opportunity cost of all that? It’s hard to stick to the dream, even as you pursue that lofty career that will enable you pay for your car, and home, and put the children through school. It’s hard to do double duty. Eventually, something has to give, and most often, it’s the dream that’s lost.
For me, and I know I’ve told this story many times; it was a ripple effect that landed me as a Consultant. I chose English, Literature and French when I was applying to secondary school. I remember clearly making that selection. And then when the day came and I arrived at Wesley Girls’, my name wasn’t anywhere. It took over half an hour before I checked under ‘Science’ and there it was: Chemistry, Physics and Math.
I almost had a heart attack. Apparently, my headmaster from Ridge Church felt I was too smart to do English and Lit so he changed my selections. And Wesley Girls’ wouldn’t change it back. Eventually, they compromised, and allowed me Economics, Geography and Math. The English teacher at Gey Hey told me I can always write, no matter what, and English isn’t a big deal.
When it was time for University, I figured I now had control, so I chose English and Drama. But Legon told me I couldn’t do English for undergrad because I never did it in secondary school. So I got stuck with economics and geography, and eventually psychology. I thought all wasn’t lost, so for masters, I sent an inquiry to the NYU creative writing program and Columbia’s MFA. Their responses didn’t surprise me much, since I hadn’t done English or writing for undergrad, I couldn’t pursue it for masters. Economics didn’t quite translate well to creative writing. My fate was sealed.
The writing dream took a hit, no doubt about that. Like all professions, writing is a craft you learn. And learning can come from continuous practice, learning from professionals or working in the industry. But it’s much harder to build the craft when you’re reading about demand and supply, sedimentary rocks and psychotic behaviors. Some are born with that natural talent to fuse words together that make sense and evoke a feeling. But for others, the majority, its pure practice, and hard work and dedication.
Is it best to forget that pay check and follow the dream? Is it best to leave it to luck, chance or go with fate, what you feel you were born to do? Through out NYU I bitched incessantly to my friends that I really wanted to get back to writing. I was a broken record. I wasn’t complete. Just recently, I read through the comments on the Facebook page for Circles, and the recurring comment is, ‘great you kept writing’, ‘finally, all those notes and stories and pages from school’. Just reminds me how long I’ve loved this, how long I’ve been doing this and how I just wasn’t myself without a pen and paper.
Whatever it may be, as cliché as it may sound, you can’t, and you shouldn’t, lose the dream. The opportunities may not be immediately there, but if you keep an eye on what you genuinely love to do, you will find the opportunity someway, somehow.
What’s best of all, I believe, is the support. I really couldn’t have done Circles, or the website or anything, without the support I had. And that’s really it. We all know that friend or person, who is an incredible artist, writer, orator, actor, etc. There’s stuff our friends can do that we can’t. Let’s encourage them. They may continue to be accountants, or investment bankers, or doctors, but let’s help them keep their dreams alive. It won’t pay their bills for now, but trust me, it will help them be better people and better friends.