A number of years ago, I took an informal poll of my family, including some once-removed folks, to find out what they thought I should do for a living, if I were to stop doing what I do for a living.
They unanimously said I should be a writer.
Not one of these people had ever read anything that I had written. Ever. And yet they were all in agreement. Except my mother, who thinks I should be a stand-up comedian. More on that another day.
So what did they base that on? My personality? How much I drink? My SAT verbal scores?
I do have a B.A. in English from a fine private university, but this proves very little. It implies that I can read and think, both useful things, but it doesn’t prove that there’s ink in the pen. I could have writer’s Tourette’s. I could write like Heidegger. I could make obtuse references that would probably offend anybody deeply read enough to understand them.
So I did not become a writer. Instead, I kept working long hours, got married, and had some kids. More material, probably, but less time, certainly.
Enter the Admiral.
I was fortunate to work with a retired Rear Admiral in my professional life. Nobody works harder. If something needs doing and nobody is doing it, he becomes an expert at that task and gets it done. He is modest with his astounding credentials and only puts his foot down when necessary – but when he does, once will usually suffice. He also smoothed my ruffled feathers, and I am not the only person in his life that he has advised generously.
He told me to write a book. He said: “Write it.”
You can ask my Book Club about how often I actually finish reading a book, much the less writing one. But the Admiral told me to write, so I am writing. Slowly, I’m finding my way, finding my voice. Perhaps someday there will be a book. If so, he will get the first copy.