What Kind of Writer Am I?
Back in March, I wrote about some of my career struggles.
Just to recap: I HATE sitting at a desk for 40+ hours a week, despite the fact that my field is important and does great work for the world. I still believe this to be the case. Archivists make it possible for the rest of us to remember things, whether that be family history, an historical event that happened 100 years ago, or a financial transaction from 1996 (hey, that might be interesting to someone).
I’ve always felt that if I could only find the right career and job, I would finally feel content to work a full-time desk job. I just had to find that thing, get the right degree, and then everything would click into place. Guess what? That’s didn’t really happen, and almost a year after finishing my masters degree, I found myself working at a desk and wondering how I had ever thought that it would feel right (in my defense, it’s easy to ponder these types of question after you learn from them).
Fast forward to now: I’ve moved to Oregon, I’m no longer working a full-time desk job, and I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering my next move, delving deep into what really makes me excited. What do I want the next 5 years of my life to look like? What do I want to do after getting out of bed in the morning? How can I get PAID to do that? What does this all even mean?
Through all of this, I’ve come to a shocking realization: I want to be a writer.
Interestingly, until the last few months, I had never even realized that being writer was something one could do. Sure, people write, but in my world they write peer reviewed articles that are published in esoteric scholarly journals, living on in the citations and quotes used by grad students and researchers. Since I have no desire to write those types of pieces (namely dense, academic articles full of big words and terms), I didn’t think I wanted to or even COULD be a “writer.” However, there is something I’ve always enjoyed about writing. The process of sitting down (on my own schedule, importantly) and fully exploring a topic is immensely satisfying. Specifically, topics that are meaningful to me, rather than those handed down in graduate school as part of an assignment.
When I recently mentioned this to my husband his response was equally shocking, “Well yeah, I’ve been saying this for years.”
So, where does this leave me? What am I going to write about? How am I going to make that happen? (I apologize for all the questions, as you might expect, writing also helps me to work out these topics).
While I deeply admire those individuals who take off in an adventure van and become “adventure writers,” at this point in time I feel sure that there are plenty of amazing people doing that already. I love that they’ve taken the risks to follow their bliss, and in fact, I love everything about the idea of being an adventure writer living out of a van. While I’ve definitely been doing some adventure writing, I also can’t discount some of my other interests beyond hiking and backpacking (yes, I have those!), some of which are related to my love of being outside. History. Archaeology. Environmental Science. Archives. Academics in general. In fact, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that perhaps I’m in an interesting and unique position: I’m a fully trained archivist with a graduate degree who is also passionate about the outdoors. I know how to write for an academic community, but I enjoy writing for non-academics more. That is: I’m an academic with an outdoor problem.
Why not write about academic “outdoorsy” things for a non-academic audience, and use those skills I’ve gained as a researcher and archivist? I’m not sure what this all means yet, but I’m really excited to explore it more.
In the meantime, you’ll likely find me working at your local outdoor retailer, happily enjoying my non-desk time.