Where Will You Be in Five Years?

This week was on the busier side for me, partly because my latest stint teaching summer school came to an end. I enjoy teaching summer school classes, but it’s nice to finally be finished and have a break for the next month before I’m thrown back into the classroom. The horizon is full of time to relax, and even more time to write.

During the latter half of summer school I was teaching Careers, which for those of you that don’t know is a Grade 10 course designed to prepare students for the world of work and get them thinking about what they want to do with the rest of their lives – don’t worry, I make sure they know that not everyone has a long-term plan at age 15, and that’s okay. Part of their final assignment for this Careers course was to hypothesize about where they’ll be in five, ten, fifteen and twenty years, if they pursue their dream job. I’m only twenty-five, but reading some of their responses and realizing that, ten years from now, these students will be just finishing university, made me feel a little old.

It naturally got me thinking about where I’ll be when they’re embarking into this terrifying, nonsensical place we call the real world. I left university to an immediate job with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, and started turning a very minor writing career into my second profession. That transformation is still ongoing, in my mind. Since graduating in 2012, I’ve published twelve pieces of fiction and non-fiction (and received an Honorable Mention from Writers in the Future) with an additional poem and my first solo collection of work coming out later this year. That’s nothing to scoff at, I don’t think, but it’s also nowhere near where I want to be as a writer.

In five years’ time, I want to have at least one novel published, preferably through a traditional publisher. That’s my minimum; if I can accomplish more than that, I’d be even happier. I think the novel I’m going to be outlining this month is the one that will get me published. The premise and the characters are strong, and the plot is much more focused than the previous two manuscripts I’ve written. In five years, I want this book to already be on the bookshelves.

After that … I’ll be writing more novels, I hope. As a creative person, it’s difficult to predict exactly where I’ll be at the next major signposts in my life. I have a list of ideas for novels that I’d like to develop, as well as more short fiction. But who knows where I’ll end up? I could get asked to write for video games, or one of the major sci fi and fantasy franchises, like Star Wars (please, oh please, oh please). I could end up teaching creative writing somewhere, like my mentor Carolyn. With creative writing – especially genre fiction – there are endless paths that you can walk, either for a brief time or the rest of your life. Which, for me, makes the next few decades all the more exciting.

What does Kirk say at the end of Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country? “Second star to the right … and straight on til morning.” That’s the path of a writer. Who knows where you might end up?

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