The start of something new

NB July 20/11: Ported over from an earlier blog. So much for once-a-week posts. I did make a few along the way (all private status now) but think I’ll start from scratch, with the exception of these two posts.

Sunset through our apartment windowI was never one of those people who knew from the outset what they wanted to spend their life doing. I’m not sure what it was I wanted to be when I was growing up, but since high school I’ve gone through several phases of interest.

Landscape architecture carried me through much of high school. At some point I changed my mind. I entered university in biology, after deciding the arts didn’t offer much in the way of job opportunity. I spent the whole of university planning to get my graduate degrees and become a professor in biology. When my marks were just a couple of percentage points shy of the scholarships cut-off and I couldn’t find a professor who would take me on as a student without one, I changed plans again. I’d discovered field ornithology and loved it, and so I decided I would stick with what I was doing and make a career of bird research. But the birds fly south in the winter and jobs become hard to find. I didn’t want an office-based job, and there are virtually no full-time field jobs.

After several years of scraping by, traveling during the summer and taking assorted jobs in the off season, my boyfriend quit his job and we left town. By that point I was already starting to cobble together income through non-fieldwork sources in addition to my bird contracts. I tried my hand at painting images for field guides, but though I stubbornly stuck it out for some while, it wasn’t for me. Just before departing for rural living, however, I’d managed to sell a proposal, with a friend of mine, for a field guide to moths. Also about the same time I started up my nature blog, The Marvelous in Nature.

And that was the start of it all.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I enjoyed writing and sharing my observations. The blog took off and continues to do quite well; it’s coming up on its three-year anniversary. Not long after the field guide to moths sold, I knew I wanted to do another book based on the premise of the blog. Eventually, I’d love to write the sort of literary non-fiction I enjoy reading.

Then somewhere in there, about a year and a half ago, I was struck by this daft notion that I would try my hand at writing fiction. I can’t recall exactly how it came about, but I got this idea for a story, I think while I was stuck in the car driving for a couple of hours. The idea excited me, and when I got home I sat down and started writing a novel.

And that was the start of that.

So now I’m addicted to writing. I enjoy the feedback I get from readers who learn something new and interesting from my nature blog, and also what I learn in doing it. And I love the rush I get from writing fiction, the same sort of addiction that strikes when you’re halfway through reading a page-turner: always on your mind and you can’t wait to return to it. Not to mention, the lifestyle really appeals to me – set your own hours, work from home in your pajamas, no commute.

I think I’ve found my career, finally.

I’m overhauling this blog to become my writing platform, to share my writing experiences, the ups and downs, successes and failures that come in trying to establish a career as a writer. For now, I plan on once-a-week posts, and while I don’t expect to post less frequently than that, I will leave the door open to more frequent posts if I find I have a lot to say.


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