I know I used to say that I wanted to be a doctor when I was really young, or at least I remember saying that in third grade when we all went around the classroom and had to share what we wanted to be. One kid sincerely answered that he wanted to be a fish. He refused to change his answer even when our teacher tried to redirect him. Eight years old and already way better at life than the rest of us. I bet he’s a great stoner now.
Truthfully, though, I can recall actively wanting to be a children’s book author. I remember waking up one morning in the first house I lived in and deciding that it would be so cool to be a scientist and that chemicals were my thing, but then I spent all morning writing a story about this scientist and drawing lots of colorful beakers and a science lab.
I wonder if I’d still have wanted to write if I’d lived in a vacuum. I’ll explain: I liked journaling early on and I loved making up stories and reading, but honestly, I think someone just thought I wrote something good as a kid and I latched on to that positive reinforcement. You know, you’re just so young and super impressionable, really desperate to find your thing. To this day I think I would’ve followed any path, but someone said I was quite the six-year-old poet and decades later I am still running down this road.
There was also that time when I was nine or ten at the Young Author’s fair. We were waiting for these certificates that we had won or something. It was my birthday, too, and I had overalls with sunflowers on and life was just A+ that day. One of the speakers said that R.L. Stine was also from San Jose and I was completely sold because Goosebumps was so cool. Like I said, I was a fairly impressionable kid and at that age there were no coincidences, only signs. So at that time I knew it was meant to be that I should grow up to write books just like R.L. Stine and what a relief it was to finally find my calling after a hard decade of soul-searching. I like telling that story because it feels so unexpected that R.L. Stine would be from San Jose. And that’s because he’s not. He’s actually from Columbus, Ohio, and I had misheard what the speaker said that day. Wikipedia didn’t exist then, so I never bothered fact checking. It wasn’t until very recently that I found out I’ve spent most of my life chasing a dream inspired by this charming inciting incident which is, in fact, born out of a misunderstanding. I was probably too busy thinking about birthday cake that day to really pay attention so here I am years later, still trying my hand at the writing thing and definitely thinking it’s the coolest job in the whole world.