The first thing people will ask you when you tell them you’re an arts major is “What on earth are you going to do with that?” Whether you’re theater arts major, a writing major, an art major, or even a graphic design major, people will doubt the usefulness of your endeavors.
Never mind that daily they see carefully designed packaging on products they either read about in a magazine or saw in a commercial with carefully-selected actors.
I tell people that I’m a creative writing major, and I get one of two reactions. One reaction is “Oh, that’s cool. Are you working on a book?” The other is “[Snort] What on earth are you going to do with that?”
My reply to the second question is usually a very controlled “I want to write things.” Because I do. I do want to write things. I don’t know what or for whom, but I want to write things and I don’t want to stop.
Still, I don’t always know what that entails. I don’t know where I’ll be writing. Will I be living in a house or a tent? A car or a trailer? An apartment or a cave? No idea.
But here’s what I don’t want to do.
I don’t want to work in an office. I made up my mind that I would not work in an office when I was 7 and I visited my father at work. I saw grey cubicles and bluish fluorescent lighting as far as my eyes could see. It was cold and cheerless and miserable in there, and I decided my soul could not bear such an environment. I found that I respected my father infinitely more after that day, knowing he was willing to lock himself inside that drab grey prison for hours just so that mother and I could have a home and food and clothes—nice ones, at that.
I don’t want to teach. Not that I object to teaching as a profession. My mother is a teacher. She’s the best teacher I know. I just don’t think I’d be good at it.
I don’t want to stay in one place. Tenure is not an alluring concept to me. I want to take my job with me. I’m happy not to have a settled home. We’re called to be vagabonds anyway. This world isn’t my home, and it’s about time I started acting that way. If a turtle can live with a shell on its back and be happy, then so can I.
I don’t want to work in a job that won’t let me help people. And by “help,” I mean helping people one on one as they deal with life’s transitions, life’s sorrows, life’s joys. Any job that keeps me out of active ministry is not, repeat not, an option.
So there’s what I can’t do. I’m sorry. I just can’t. I will write, confound it, and I won’t stop. Where and when and how is still a mystery, but I’m okay with that for now.