There are times, when I try to explain what I do for living - and this comes up a lot, you might imagine - that I feel rather judged. This is probably more a reflection on my insecurities than upon the person(s) I'm talking to: I know that realistically, no one is expending that much thought about my life. But I can hear the mental monologue in the back of my head: impractically artsy; scatterbrained; can't she make up her mind?
So I answer, silently, with something like this.
I have always been a writer. From a young age, I knew I wanted to have novels in print. From not quite such a young age, but relatively early on, I also knew I wasn't going to be a full-time writer: not only is this very rare and difficult to pull off, but as someone who creates by incubation, I needed something else to do to get away from it and let my ideas mature. I went through a few possibilities before at sixteen, I discovered the harp.
My adoration for the instrument was near-instantaneous. It only took a few months of playing before I knew I wanted to do it professionally. I had hopes at the beginning that I would be able to make a living from it ... but whether it's the opportunities in the area, my weakness as a self-promoter, or a combination of factors, that never materialized. I took on part-time office work to stabilize my financial situation.
As this developed, I also began to experiment with cooking. Unlike an ordinary, sane person, I started with Indian cuisine and complex recipes. I was fearless. I also set off the smoke alarm more than once. But as time passed, I discovered how much I loved these culinary excursions. I began to joke about culinary school - some day, down the road, eventually.
Then, finally, I hit a turning point. My part-time work was stressing and overwhelming me; I felt stuck in a rut. I met with a career counselor and floated the culinary school idea past her just to feel it out. She helped me map out that option, but also focused me on several ways to improve my current situation. Yet the more I came up with ways to increase my satisfaction with where I was, the more I felt the pull towards the culinary.
I finally decided to pull the trigger. I'm at a point in my life where I have the freedom and circumstances to take on new adventures. Let's do this thing.