It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to to with my life. Ever since I was a kid I knew that I loved books and that I loved writing, but everyone told me that I’d never make much money as a writer. It got to me and I did the stupidest thing ever; I listened to them. And because I listed to them I didn’t pursue my dream of being a professional writer until I reached the age of 30.
I did study journalism though, and graduated from Humber College in 2005. But I became so disheartened by the state of the industry, and various difficulties I was working through at the time, that my love of writing fell by the wayside. I even went to school again for chemical engineering technology in 2008 with the belief that I could secure a more stable, better paying career if I went into a technical field. I finished the program with honours, but after doing three terms of coop placements I discovered that I actually hated the work. There were many nights where I couldn’t sleep because I was so distressed by the course my life had taken.
Then something magical happened. I read a book about how to start a career as a freelance writer and it totally changed my perspective. It made me feel like writing actually can be a sustainable career even today. I started writing again. I started reading again. I started sending story pitches, and the more I did these things the more I realized that writing really is my true calling. I rediscovered my love of the written word, and now I am never going to put the pen down again. While I might have been able to get a job working for a pharmaceutical company, or even in the Tar Sands, I know that I’ll always be miserable unless I am a writer. To be honest, this is the only job I’ve ever had that I haven’t gotten sick of in under six months.
A long road stretches out ahead of me, but it goes into the expansive and thrilling places I hunger to visit.
Chris Riddell writes for The Grid, The National Post, Torontoist, Media Planet, Water Canada, and Yonge Street Media. None of his creative works have been published yet, but he’s working on it.