The New Yorker has a piece online about 20 writers under 40 in which they ask all the writers the same set of questions and also link to some great pieces that these writers have contributed to the magazine in the recent past. One of the most interesting questions in the Q-and-A is “did you ever consider not becoming a writer?” The answers are somewhat varied, but almost without fail amount to some version of “Yes. Duh.” Here are a couple of my favorites
Jonathan Safran Foer
Did I ever. Do I ever. For a long time, I thought I would like to be a doctor. Such a good profession. So explicitly good. Never a waste of time. No obstetrician goes home at the end of a long day and says, “I delivered four babies. What’s the point?”
Since I easily imagined that I’d never get published, I considered doing other things. As a fallback plan, I went to film school and trained as a film director. This was my attempt at pragmatism. I have also taught. When things are going badly, I still consider doing other—legitimate—things. Considering doing other—legitimate—things sometimes feels like a second career.
I think what I find most interesting about asking successful people about their own trajectory towards their success is how it humanizes their success. To think of someone like Jonathan Safran Foer still considering the merits of his work is really awe-inspiring and brings a level of ease to my own questioning of life-decisions, work, school, and so on.
In relation to a profession like writing, its even more interesting to hear these successful writers, still questioning their own place in their industry. I don’t think a similar question would be answered in similar ways in more socially-sanctioned professions. It is also really interesting to see the difference, (made much more apparent for me as I’ve approached, transitioned into and traversed the age around when most people make their first step onto a career path) between occupations that are held in high regard or are fixated upon by the public and the kinds of decisions that are considered economically/personally/professionally viable and beneficial. The two do not meet very often, in my experience. So, although writers are often seen as important members of society, to pursue writing as a profession is hardly met with the same backing.
In any case, you can check out the stories and Q-and-A in the piece yourself.