I’m still drawing on some questions I solicited on my Facebook page awhile back. This comes from Gregg Chamberlain, and it’s one I get asked a lot in blog interviews: If I wasn’t a writer, what would I be doing? Would I have some other creative outlet?
What I usually say: What would I be if I wasn’t a writer? Institutionalized.
Seriously. Like a lot of writers, I feel like if I couldn’t write, or didn’t write, I’d go crazy. Completely bonkers. Even taking a step back and considering the question seriously, it’s still tough to answer because I can’t imagine what else I’d be doing. I’ve spent so much of my life on stories and writing, that a huge chunk of my current identity would be totally different. I’m a writer because around the time I graduated from college, I decided there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do with my life, my career, my time. It took about twelve years after that to be able to write full time, but I did it because I didn’t give myself much of a choice. I don’t want to consider what other career I might have gone into besides writing, because it would change my life too much, and I like my life the way it is.
The question of what other creative outlet I might be doing if I didn’t write is a little less traumatic to consider, because I’ve always had lots of creative outlets. Art, sewing, theater, music. Looking back, I think I could have made a career at any of them — if I had chosen to put as much time into any one of them as I put into my writing. Writing won out because it’s easy to do any time, any place. A pen and paper, that’s it. Art and music have steeper learning curves, I think, and the rewards aren’t as immediate. Theater usually needs collaborators. I sometimes think in an alternate universe, I did follow one of those other paths, and in that universe I’m wondering what would have happened if I’d become a writer.
I’ve been on a couple of panels over the last couple of years about other creative outlets writers have. Lots of writers knit, make jewelry, play in bands, and so on. I do find I really love making things with my hands after days and days of working mostly with my brain. But I don’t consider trying any of my crafty hobbies professionally.
How about you? If you didn’t write, would you be doing something else? Do you have creative outlets in addition to writing?