Are We Born to Create?

Are we born to do our jobs? Is the same DNA that chooses whether we have brown eyes or blonde hair, also responsible for choices that we make when it comes to our careers? It certainly seems like this might be the case, at least with creative people.

Ask any artist to give up drawing or painting and you might as well request he hand over a limb. Dancers are constantly tapping their toes, and their feet seem to always be in second position…even if they are forty and haven’t put on toe shoes in twenty years. So maybe today I will narrow the question: Are creative people born to create?

At first it might seem like a simple nature-nurture question. Cops grow up in cop families with cop attitudes. Engineers seem to sprout out of engineer families. It is not uncommon to see entire families of medical people. Firemen produce little fire fighters and military blood runs deep as well.

But what about creative people?

Many of us, when we tell our family that we want to be a writer, what they hear is akin to, “Blah, blah, throwing away college education blah blah cult blah Kool-Aid, blah blah writer.”

Most of my family was less than thrilled when I announced that I was leaving corporate sales to pursue my dream to write.

If you look at the picture above, that was me. Okay, well this is actually my son at eleven months old. He writes all day with anything and ON anything he can get his little hands on. He has notebook upon notebook filled with scribbles and drawings. No paper, wall or pet is safe. I was exactly the same way. I was writing novels before I had completely learned my alphabet.

My first novel was a riveting tale titled Hi Kristen Mom Love…because those were the only words I knew how to spell. It read like this:

J4yy 9 rs!

Clearly it was a tale about Princess Kristen and the evil witch who made all the little girls wear ugly boy pants. I recall using colored yarn to bind the pages and then would decorate my “book covers” with the Spirograph I got for Christmas…and then would go door to door selling Hi Kristen Mom Love to the neighbors for 5 cents a piece, only 10 cents if they bought the entire series.

So maybe I had a little sales in me too.

What I find astonishing, aside from the fact that a four-year-old sold door-to-door and no one called the police, was that I made a lot of money. Wait…no, that wasn’t my point. What I find interesting is that the same family who raved about the sheer brilliance of Hi Kristen Mom Love was the same family who later told me to be practical. I had to make a living. Writers were broke, depressed hippies who lived in their mothers’ basements…until they landed in Betty Ford or ODed.

Okay, they didn’t say that, but might as well have.

My grandfather wanted me to go into business. It didn’t matter that Kristen couldn’t add a column of numbers and get the same answer twice if her life depended on it. Dad wanted me to go in the military. He was a Navy man. Military. Yeah…I tended to ask Why? a tad too much. I spent two years in ROTC, and granted, I won more ribbons than anyone else…but I also did more push-ups and ran more laps than anyone else. Finally, one day the Commander called me into her office and asked if I might not prefer another career choice.

Not very encouraging.

I tried politics. Worked as an intern for a Congresswoman, but apparently my tolerance threshold for dealing with morons was not near high enough for working for the government. So, I figured sales! THAT was the ticket. I could seriously TALK, and salespeople were good at talking. I could do that. Except, I was absolutely the world’s worst salesperson, namely because I hated it. Hmmm. What now? Maybe law school. Hey, I had really great verbal skills. I did want to be a writer and lawyers wrote a lot of stuff, right? The one thing I didn’t count on was I’d actually be accepted.

My family was thrilled and all I could think was Crap.

I am actually really happy I was accepted to law school. It forced me to stand up for myself. I recall holding that letter in my hand. All I had to do was show up for orientation and buy my books, and I thought NO. I can’t do this anymore. I was born to WRITE. I don’t care if I am ever successful, at least I will be HAPPY.

See, I had spent a lifetime trying to please everyone else. I felt like a fish out of water, confused about what my purpose on this spinning hunk of rock really was. Yet, in reality, I had known all along since I was two and writing on the walls. I was BORN to write. It was why I had failed at everything else. Those other jobs were not my destiny.

The interesting thing is that once I made my mind up to embrace my destiny and give it all I had, I finally started seeing success. Why? I was willing to work 15 hour days and work 6 days a week because I LOVED my job. I was now excited about every new day and each new project. I was eager to learn all I could to get better. I hadn’t been this way with any other job. In sales, medicine, politics, law, I did the bare minimum to get by. It felt like walking through quicksand.

With writing? I was liberated.

The even MORE interesting thing is that my mother is a nurse. Heck everyone in her family is. My father was a radiation safety officer (explains a lot :P). My grandfather was a CFO. Thus, at first glance it seems I am the odd duck of the family. Yet, my father hated his job and spent his free time writing poems in a notebook he carried around with him. My mother has never thrived as a nurse, and, this past month, has taken up blogging. She admits she always wanted to write, but dyslexia and family disapproval stopped her.

After I had the courage to step out and become a writer, my one uncle started a sign business, because it incorporated his love for drawing and art. My other uncle, a history teacher, now acts and does competitive ballroom dancing with his girlfriend. He has taken up singing and it still weirds me out.

So was I really the black Lamb sheep after all?

What about you guys? What does your family think of you writing (drawing, painting, dancing, singing)? You think they might be closet creative people? Do you think we are born to do our creative field? Or is it an outside influence? Nature or nurture? Both? Come on! Time to play armchair scientist.

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of August I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of August I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

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  1. #1 by Sue-Ellen Welfonder on August 5, 2011 - 1:35 pm

    Excellent insight, Kristen. I do believe writing is an inborn urge/trait. My greatest goal was to work for the airlines because I wanted to see the world. I did that 23 years and loved every minute. But throughout that time, I kept meticulous travel journals. I was always writing something.
    I come from a highly creative family with writers, artists, and musicians in my background.

    So I think your darling little boy’s photo says it all. The writing/creative gene exists. It’s up to us to nurture or ignore it.

    Great post!

  2. #2 by Katie Ganshert on August 5, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    I was that way too. Instead of playing with barbies or whatever normal little girls do, I lay in bed filling notebook after notebook with stories. But in high school and college, the practicality trumped the passion and I stopped writing stories (but not writing…..I still kept a journal). But like you, I couldn’t stay away for too long.

  3. #3 by Anne-Mhairi Simpson on August 5, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    Kool Aid HAHAHAHAHAHA Yes, my family took a while to come round. I think they mostly now hope I will grow out of it and that the threat of starvation will send me back to work in a nice safe office job with a company pension…

    Sorry, could feel my hands getting heavy just typing that. My dad is a pilot and has always been making up stories of some kind. Relatively recently (the last seven or eight years) he started writing them down. My mother… Hmmm. My stepmother is insanely creative – she’s a textile artist with a workroom I could make Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat in. My grandfather (not my dad’s dad) was also a pilot and also wrote a lot of stories. They weren’t in any way related so that’s kind of strange. I don’t know how much of what I am is down to my genes, but if people made me stop writing, forget handing over a limb. Just cut off my head.

  4. #4 by ScarlettSpace on August 5, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    My family and friends are pretty supportive. I have group of great woman that put up with my constant need to write, talk about writing, and bring up writing every two seconds. My husband tolerates my book obsession and the bills that come with it although he really doesn’t understand it. I think everyone has a creative spot. My husband has his own HVAC business (not so creative right?) but when he installs a unit he does it to the very best of his ability. That is his art. I think creativity is definitely a nature/nuture situation. I also think if you look hard enough you’ll find a little creativity in everyone.

    @karenvtavares

  5. #5 by Alexander Bennon on August 5, 2011 - 1:40 pm

    I think the basic answer to the question in the post’s title is “Yes.” Look at all the creating that little kids do without much encouragement. It’s part of who we are, but some people choose to do something different as they get older. But also look at the number of people who have creative pursuits on the side of careers that you might consider not very creative.

    My wife is very supportive of my being a writer. She enjoys fantasy, reads my novels, and gives me feedback and encouragement. When I told my family in high school that I wanted to be a writer, my parents expressed support. It wasn’t until much later that my dad told me he had been disappointed at the time, but his personal policy was to back us in whatever we wanted to do. I’ve appreciated that quality about my parents.

    I agree that to be happy, you’ve got to do what you feel in your guts what is right for you, no matter whether people around you think it’s practical. Thanks for sharing!

  6. #6 by NancyJNicholson on August 5, 2011 - 1:42 pm

    I didn’t realize I was a writer until after my first completed manuscript. I always knew I was creative, eleven years of 4-H will do that to you, or expound on what’s already there. But could I write? Where did that come from? Then I realized in the eleven year of taking 4-H projects to the fair I had to write a report on each project and at the end of the year I had to (gasp!!) finish a record book of all my projects. At the end of eleven years I had a history 6 inches thick.

    So I was shocked to discover this creative endevour started way before I became an adult and penned my first manuscript.
    NancyJNicholson

  7. #7 by Jen Greyson | Author on August 5, 2011 - 1:43 pm

    Absolutely!

    ….and i went on a tirade of a comment…and figured maybe it would make a good blog post🙂

    The dilemma lies in the fear of it….because that first step is a doozy.

    I may start making this a weekly series: Kristen Lamb Asks…

    http://www.thesurvivalmama.com/2011/08/kristen-lamb-asks/

  8. #11 by Pat Newcombe on August 5, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    I have been a nurse and in the medical profession all my working life and it is only in the last ten-fifteen years that I realised I really had always wanted to write. Never thought I’d be any good at it and in years gone by it seemed you had to be good and able to type properly! Three cheers for PC’s!!

  9. #12 by Shéa MacLeod on August 5, 2011 - 1:57 pm

    “Blah, blah, throwing away college education blah blah cult blah Kool-Aid, blah blah writer.”

    Oh my word, I nearly wet myself! That is AWESOME!

    I can totally relate with the whole not being able to fit in and find your niche thing. UNTIL I finally said, d*mmit Jim, I’m a writer not a secretary! (Okay, so I’m still a secretary as I need to pay silly things like rent, but that’s ONLY until the writing can pay the bills. And I believe it will.)

    My family’s been incredibly supportive. They are so proud of me and are my biggest cheerleaders. But that only happened AFTER I made the decision and went after it like a force of nature.

    The only other writer in my family was my great-aunt Dorothy who wrote poems and articles back in the day. My family are great readers, so I was always surrounded by books, and several have a talent for writing though no interest in it. They are, however, very creative. Mostly in painting; oils, watercolors. Or other arsty craftsy stuff. (You should see my aunt decoupage a hatbox!)

    Me? I can’t do arsty craftsy to save my life. But I CAN write. Heck, I can’t NOT write. And I’ve been doing it since I could hold a crayon and spell out about the same words as “Hi Kristen Mom Love”.

    Is writing genetic?

    Don’t know. Don’t care.

    Was I born to write?

    Oh, baby, you better believe it.

  10. #13 by Jeannie Moon on August 5, 2011 - 1:59 pm

    I found something I was very good at while in college…communications. I was successful after college as well–I worked in PR and as a journalist, yet all I wanted to do was teach. So, I chucked the business world, got my masters (then another) and I’ve never looked back–that was 25 years ago. I was born to be a teacher, no doubt, just as I am born to write. The two work pretty nicely together.

  11. #14 by broadsideblog on August 5, 2011 - 2:01 pm

    I grew up in a family of freelance creatives: journalist mom, TV writer step-mother and film director father. No one had a pension, paycheck or paid vacations. So those things never seemed important or appealing to me when you could — as they did — work at home in your bathrobe and argue with your agent and drink coffee at noon in your living room and travel the world and get paid because it was part of your work to do so. Who would want a “real job?”!

    It also made very clear to me that being creatively successful and owning a home/car/decent clothes was not mutually exclusive — and taught me to realize that rejection is also endemic to this world. We had steak years and hamburger years. We drove (good) used cars and owned art and traveled, but never assumed our good fortune was assured. I think too many people fantasize about The Creative Life and think it’s going to be soooooo cool and easy and boho once they flee the cube and The Man. As if!

    It is fun and cool but can also be so incredibly hard and demands consistent self-discipline and tolerance for ambiguity and sometimes being so damn broke you think you are insane for doing it. Being creative means risk. That scares many people away. If you know creative people who do it well enough to support themselves, let alone others, you have powerful role models and mentors.

  12. #15 by Iris Petra Jacobs on August 5, 2011 - 2:02 pm

    Well, let’s see. My grandmother on my dad’s side wrote and published a memoir when she returned from traveling the world in the ’60s. After that, my dad wrote creatively in greeting cards. Yes, you read that right. During my freshman year of college he sent me greeting cards from the cats and the dogs, this was before they marketed such things in greeting card stores. Not only did I get greeting cards from our pets, but the pets told me stories in these cards. The cats reported on the stupid and bad behaviors of the dogs. The dogs told me of the cats wanting to take over the world, one back yard at a time. Each pairing of cards told more in the cat vs. dog saga. My dad was a banker by day, my grandmother a homemaker.

    My mom was a teacher for years, then she worked in an medical imaging clinic, after which she went back to teaching, and then became a nanny for a time. She also dances. Ballroom dancing for 8 years and daily dancing in her kitchen forever after. In all this she’s wanted to write the stories her mother told her about the family when she was growing up. I hope she does write those stories someday.

    My brother is a grad student and a teacher, and has always wanted to be. He is also in a band and writes songs. He is a senior editor of Wikipedia. He is also writing a memoir.

    It seems that I come from a family of creatives, yet at the same time, all of them (except for my brother) wanted me to do something besides write. My grandmother didn’t live long enough to get a chance to tell me what to be when I grew up. I wonder if she would have approved of my being a writer. My dad wanted me to teach English. My mom wanted me to be a singer. I do sing, and for a while I sang concerts for the elderly in nursing homes and retirement communities.

    I am still sometimes torn between singing and writing. There are people in my life now who firmly believe I can do both, as long as the main thing I do is write. Singing can take up a lot of time. An hour a day of practicing though is about all that my voice teachers ever expected of me. If I keep that up, I still have many hours in a day lef to write. I think I can do both. So I better wrap up this comment and get to work on my book. Then later today I’ll do some singing.

    Thank you Kristen for this blog post. You gave me a jump-start for a day of unabashed creativity!

  13. #16 by kaleba on August 5, 2011 - 2:04 pm

    I really liked this post. That line, “‘Blah, blah, throwing away college education blah blah cult blah Kool-Aid, blah blah writer.'” cracked me up! I can so relate. I like reading about your life, well, everyone’s lives.

    My dad would have really supported my dreams of writing; he was the creative in our family. My mom’s side are scientists (of one variety or another) and teachers. My father was an only child and he and his mother are the only two of his family I ever met. They’re both gone now so I essentially have no paternal family. On my mom’s side the motto is, “Make money! Career fulfillment and happiness are overrated. Make money!” So for a creative with an inability to make money in a creative field, that definitely leaves me out of the barn as the deepest, darkest, ugliest black sheep to have ever lived. What they don’t seem to understand is that my cousin the photographer and her sister the landscape architect are both in creative careers. (But they make money! So I guess all is forgiven?)

    As for nature versus nurture, I definitely take after my dad in A LOT of ways. My mother laughs about, and is awed by, how much like my father I am. But I was raised by my mother. Dad was around the first four years of my life and very rarely after that. I got no encouragement, from anywhere– family, school, community, friends, no where– to pursue writing or any creative field, and yet I have dreamed of being a published author since I learned to read. I write constantly, everyday, but not one word of it is publishable, not one word does anyone want to buy. I have enormous blocks, huge doubts, massive insecurities, and the deep down knowledge that no career is worth pursuing unless you can make massive, envious, earth shattering amounts of money. What it boils down to is that I get my creative side from my father and my belief system from my mother. Nurture will eventually win out because I have to feed, shelter, and otherwise care for myself and my dog and my cat, but for now I’m still trying to be happy, still trying to live my life for myself and my own happiness, and still trying to pursue my dreams. Nature is putting up a good fight but nurture is winning the war.

  14. #17 by Prudence MacLeod on August 5, 2011 - 2:06 pm

    All that I am was once disapproved of by family, all that I have become I have become in spite of advice to the contrary, and I am thrilled to be in such august company. We are the people who change the world, for we are the ones who give permission for the imagination to be unleashed. Rejoice with me, fellow goddesses, let us march forth and create.

    Great post, love it. Prudence
    http://www.prudencemacleod.com/

  15. #18 by Joanna Clark Dawyd on August 5, 2011 - 2:09 pm

    Oh, my answer to your question, Are we born to create, is a resounding and enthusiastic “Yes!” It runs in my family. My mom always had 10 different projects going at once. My dad could have been an artist or a writer, but lacked the motivation (due to a brain injury).

    The first story I remember writing was in French immersion first grade. It was in french, so I can’t read it now, and it was about mommy and baby horses, and a big bad daddy horse who wanted to eat the babies. I think. Even when I quite writing for a while, I had to create…sew, paint, decorate, whatever. My creativity was dying to get out. My first blog is the product of that (http://toaprettylife.blogspot.com)

    In all the jobs I’ve had (all two of them, both office jobs), I only lasted a maximum of two years before I was dying to get out. If I can’t have a creative job, then I crave change.

    I’m pretty sure my 4yo daughter will want to be a writer, and my 2yo son will be a musician.

  16. #19 by Stacy Green on August 5, 2011 - 2:20 pm

    Love this post. I’ve written since I was a kid and was very lucky that my parents encouraged it. They thought it was great I wanted to write and listened to me when I told them everything a journalism professor had said to get me to major in magazine journalism instead of creative writing.

    Big Mistake number one. I will forever regret listening to her. No, creative writing doesn’t make the big bucks. Neither does history. But I loved them. Journalism was too structured, too high-paced. I hated doing interviews and having deadlines. I worked for newspapers for a while out of college and hated every minute of it. And then like you, Kristen, I went into sales. Mostly because I’d just moved to Cedar Rapids with my hubby and desperately needed a job. Hated it, but did really well.

    I’d given up creative writing in college and hadn’t thought of it until I became a stay at home mom. Everything truly does happen for a reason.

    And my daughter is very creative. We’ve made several books, and she’ll make up long, involved stories off the top of her head involving all sorts of her favorite cartoon peeps. I hope she keeps her love of creativity and stays true to herself.

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. #20 by Kim Kircher on August 5, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    I’m visiting here from Jey Greyon’s blog at http://www.thesurvivalmom.com and I’m glad I found you. I love this post. I, too, wrote my first “novel” as a child and it was about my mom. Perhaps because she loved the adoration, Mom has always encouraged me to be a writer. My other job is a ski patroller, where I throw explosives onto steep slopes to cause avalanches, so my parents probably like the safety of the writing half of my life. There’s nothing quite like the encouragement to follow your dreams from the ones you love the most.

    • #21 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 5, 2011 - 2:33 pm

      Okay…that is like the COOLEST job…EVER. Why don’t you guys ever visit on career day? So we are in Texas and don’t know what snow looks like. I love Jen’s blog. So great to have you here😀.

    • #22 by lanceschaubert on August 11, 2011 - 5:42 pm

      You have GOT to be kidding me? Seriously?! You throw bombs for a living? Are you a Nintendo character?

  18. #23 by Caroline Starr Rose on August 5, 2011 - 2:27 pm

    Maybe I’ve been fortunate in that my family has always been very supportive. Of course, during all those years of rejection, my husband would sometimes ask, “Are you sure you want to keep doing this?” It was hard for him to see me disappointed.

    They might not have always understood, but they respected the persistence, which has been wonderful.

  19. #24 by Charissa Weaks on August 5, 2011 - 2:28 pm

    Awesome post! I come from a creative family. We all sing or play an instrument as do nearly all my aunts, uncles, cousins. Family reunions are fun🙂 But I am the sole writer. I started telling stories when I was three and by six I had several works of art on display on our coffee table. My mother was a teacher who also taught piano and my dad was a preacher who refused pay so he also drove a gas truck from 8-5 so we could eat. But on the side, music was his life. My parents had a gospel record and everything. Most of my childhood was spent in little churches across the southeast listening to them sing and later, my siblings and I were added to the ensemble. It was my parent’s time of dreaming.
    But…like you….my parents wanted me to be more practical. I was pre-med and bored out of my mind. I have enough college credits for 2 degrees yet I hold none because nothing made me happy. I entered a radiology program, then nursing. Then I tried the teaching program and quickly saw that was not for me. I have a strong background in genetics…could even run a DNA test if I had too. I’ve managed my own business, been a personal trainer, a reflexologist, and managed a Physical Therapy office.
    And until a year ago I was miserable. A year ago I decided that I had to write. I’d put it off long enough. I didn’t care if I made any money, though it would be nice, but it wasn’t the most important thing. The most important thing was that I do something I LOVE. I’m lucky that I don’t have to work and I have a husband who wants me to write because he knows it makes me happy.
    As for whether it’s innate or not, I believe it is. My 11 year old has been writing, drawing, singing, dancing and playing instruments her whole life. I never had to convince her to do it, it was just there. She never saw me write until a year ago. She was already a published author before I even thought about picking writing back up. Yes…my 11 year old is published and I am not🙂
    And now I’m in my parent’s shoes. Do I encourage her to craft her talents knowing rejection is a huge possibility and that success is extremely difficult in this business? Or do I keep her monetarily safe and encourage her to choose a career that will pay the bills and let her art be something she does on the side?
    Great post…Sorry for such a long comment🙂 But I will definitely mention it on the blog next week and link back.

  20. #25 by Christine Ashworth on August 5, 2011 - 2:36 pm

    Well, I’m a writer, born of writers. Technically my mom was a psychology major, but she told me stories before I went to sleep every night for years. My dad has sold well over 300 novels and several non-fiction books as well. My brother was also a writer…I agree, it’s in our genetic makeup. It has to be…I’ve never wanted to be anything else than a writer. It took me long enough to get here, but here I am!

  21. #26 by Michael J. Coene on August 5, 2011 - 2:42 pm

    You were born to create if what you do with your time is create things rather than talk to other people about what that might be like. Too many writers spend time dithering about on the internet, discussing writing and what it means to be a writer, giving advice on how to write, because they read advice on some other website that told them discussing these things is good for branding. Whatever. Go write a book—that’s good for branding. Go create.

    I’m not saying anybody here is of this caliber. Just an observation while we’re on the subject.

  22. #27 by Wayne Borean on August 5, 2011 - 2:44 pm

    Um, yeah. I remember that story.

    “You’ll never make any money writing. Forget about it, and get a job in a factory. Factory jobs are good steady work, you’ll be able to work there until retirement.”

    Funny thing is none of the factories that were pointed out as “good steady work” exist any more.

    Wayne

  23. #28 by Marcy Kennedy on August 5, 2011 - 2:45 pm

    I’ve been writing since I first learned my letters, but I come from a very practical, “proper” family. Almost all of them have given up on their dreams because they needed to “grow up.”

    They pushed for me to become a veterinarian or a teacher, despite the fact that I faint at the sight of blood and don’t have the patience to deal with a roomful of children or teenagers (hey, at least I’m honest about my limitations). They told me that becoming a writer was a waste of my potential.

    I’ve heard every argument against writing that there is including . . .

    “You need to start making better decisions.”

    “It’s time you grew up and acted like a responsible adult.”

    “You can still write as a hobby, but you need to get a real job.”

    Earlier this year, they followed these jabs up with the suggestion that I should get a job at a local fast food place so that I could start earning a living.

    Here’s the irony–I’ve won awards, and I earn far more from my writing than I would from working 40 hour weeks at a fast food restaurant. I don’t know if anything will ever change their minds about the path I’ve taken, but I love being a writer, and I am now married to a man who supports what I do 1000% and is proud of me. I’m still learning to remember that’s all I need.

    (I actually did rant about this on my blog a few months ago, but it seems the wounds are still there – http://girlswithpens.com/2011/03/07/a-writers-most-difficult-challenge/)

  24. #29 by merryfarmer on August 5, 2011 - 2:52 pm

    I’ve got writers on both sides of my family. My father is also a novelist on the side. What really cracks me up is that on my Mom’s side there are writers going back generations. In fact, the first family member on my maternal grandfather’s side to came to the US came to start a Swedish-language newspaper in the Chicago area in the 1860s! I definitely think it’s in the DNA.

  25. #30 by educlaytion on August 5, 2011 - 2:53 pm

    Although some of my mom’s creative side was bestowed upon me, I come from a family of play it very safe. Somehow in my late teens I learned to take chances, that failure was a necessary component of getting success. I’ve been a train wreck here and there, but the fam just wants me to be stable. In a lot of ways we do buck the odds if we make it with creative pursuits. As long as we have some stability then I say go after all that other stuff too. Get the bills paid however you have to and write or draw or sing or whatever. For creative peeps, that stuff’s gotta come out.

  26. #31 by Gene Lempp on August 5, 2011 - 2:56 pm

    My core family (wife and kids) think the writing thing is awesome (although secretly I think that is because I’m out of the way writing most of the time). The extended family, well, they are less than thrilled. Fortunately, they are even less thrilled about trying to tell me I’m wrong. So they wish me well and change the subject.

    Great post, Kristen.

  27. #32 by amyshojai on August 5, 2011 - 3:15 pm

    Let’s see….my dad’s a music teacher so I started piano in 2nd grade, cello in 5th, and voice in HS. My twin brother was the writer of the family–I was gonna go to broadway. He was told to “get a journalism degree” so he’d have a career (after years in the newspaper biz and then PR he’s now freelancing and happier than he’s ever been!). I was told to get a teaching degree for the same reason…taught 1 semester, was miserable, and now combining ALL my “creative” loves by writing about pets and (most recently) co-writing a musical/play.

    So yes, it’s in the genes, I think. I’ve also cousins who are 1) concert pianist, 2) professional cellist 3) roadie for rock band.

    And then I married an engineer. My parents and sibs get it. Took my husband a weeeee bit longer.

  28. #33 by Alica on August 5, 2011 - 3:24 pm

    I definitely think nature plays a big part in being creative because I think creative people process information differently. We see things, notice behavior, we stand in line and start analyzing the people around us, creating characters for later- at least I hope WE do and it’s not just me!

  29. #34 by chippermuse on August 5, 2011 - 3:26 pm

    Funny… Just this week, my best friend asked me if I always knew I wanted to write. I said yes. Always loved writing, ever since I can remember. I used to write poems and short stories, even as a kid.

    As for family, they don’t typically get into deep conversations about writing with me, but they are generally supportive. My dad works as a house painter, not exactly what you’d call art, but he is very good at working with colors. My mother works with numbers. She kicks around the idea of writing but hasn’t branched out to try it. But she’s played the piano for years, and so do I. My aunt is writing books now, in her later years. I have a cousin who is a visual artist. And I have older relatives who were musical. So I think it’s in the genes, but circumstances need to allow the talent to develop, and you need a certain boldness to pursue art for the long haul.

    Thanks for sharing!

  30. #35 by Raelyn Barclay on August 5, 2011 - 3:50 pm

    I’m the daughter of the ‘black sheep’ and perhaps that’s why my parents have been supportive🙂

    Dad’s side of the family is musical and artistic with a healthy dose of logic and humor (and yet neither my dad or any of his siblings pursued art as a living). Mum’s side are the engineers and nurses and military folks. So yes I think there’s something in the genes, I take after my dad’s side, but circumstances come into play too. Growing up we didn’t have the money to explore music beyond basic singing. Yet pencils were cheap so drawing and writing were encouraged.

    Great post Kristen!

  31. #36 by Angela Wallace on August 5, 2011 - 3:52 pm

    I think everyone is born to create. We’re made in the image of God and He’s the supreme Creator. I think society tells us what is and is not acceptable, and if we believe those standards, we tend to squash our creativity if it doesn’t line up. But from what I read in the comments, it doesn’t stay squashed forever. I think creativity is often seen as relating to the arts, but the scientist who thinks to try a new combination of chemicals and stumbles upon a cure is exercising creativity. (Grossly oversimplified, but same idea.)

    I’ve been writing since I was 7-years-old. It’s like an itch, a drive I can’t ignore. It’s such a deep part of who I am, to not write would be, like you said, cutting off a limb. My mom has always been supportive, and when I was in high school I met several peers who were also into writing. I’m not sure where I’d be if I hadn’t had that nurturing. Probably still writing, but would I believe in making a life with it?

    Great post, Kristen. 🙂

  32. #37 by Suzanne on August 5, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    Kristen, i love this post. Thank you. My parents are both creatives although my Dad has always had a “real” job in PR, which fortunately he seems to love. I majored in communications/journalism b/c it just came easy to me (and there were limited math requirements). My brother is the Black Lamb/Sheep as a pilot and college aviation professor. I’ve always admired that he knew he wanted to do that since he was little and has stuck with it. Now I am realizing I have had the same directional force, but I think with writing and communications there are so many more ways to go it hasn’t seemed as clear WHAT I will do with the knowledge and desire I have. I’ve been writing and editing in a “real” job for lotsa years but am desperate now to move on to a less structured situation. I am trapped by the paycheck now, though, with kids in school. But thanks for letting me see how supportive my parents have always been (and of my brother, too). They “get it,” for just wanting their kids to do what they love, which I hope to be able to pass on to mine, even though I don’t see a writer in my pre social worker and veterinarian. And that’s okay, if they love those things like I love writing.

    btw, your blog seems to have provided a major forum for us to unload our childhood woes and wants — an unexpected service! 😉

  33. #38 by Sarah Pearson on August 5, 2011 - 4:13 pm

    Kristen,
    I’ve been following your blog for a while. I don’t often comment as I don’t always feel I have anything useful to add to the conversation but I bookmark a lot of your stuff for future reference, (I’m still a fledgling). I had to comment today though. I don’t know if we are made or born the way we are, but I do know this post is a reminder that everyone, to the best of their practical ability, should do what their heart and head tells them to do, and not what someone else thinks they should do.

    Thank you for putting into words what it ha taken me years to learn.

  34. #39 by JohnPaul on August 5, 2011 - 4:24 pm

    I agree with Alexander and Angela; we are created to imitate the Creator. For some, it’s obvious from an early age. Others find their niches later in life.

    I hope no one minds I seek connections with some of those who commented. Working at following the advice of We Are Not Alone and Are You There, Blog?

    • #40 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 5, 2011 - 4:31 pm

      We are all here to connect with each other, so you should be fine, John. We appreciate people who come to be part of a community😀.

  35. #41 by Brooke Johnson on August 5, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    My mother’s side of the family is really creative, especially my grandmother. I think I got the creative gene from her. We’re so much alike that I hope that I become just like her when I’m old–a bit crazy, super supportive, loving, energetic, and endlessly creative. My dad is creative in a different way. He does a lot of nature photography. It’s what makes him happy. He also builds campers… from scratch. There’s creativity in that, right?

    I honestly can’t see myself doing anything else but write. It just makes sense. I can believe that I was born to be a writer.

    I have always been a creative person. When I was younger, I did A LOT of artwork and I wrote a few stories to go along with them. I dabbled in animation, film, photography, music composition, and painting before I settled on writing. As a child, I always dreamed of becoming an artist, but unfortunately I could never get what was in my head on the canvas. It always turned out wrong. I still do a bit of artwork, but not as much as I used to. One of my friends recently said to me “If you can write half as well as you can draw, then you’ll be a bestseller, no doubt.” I can write about 10x better than I can draw, so maybe that’s a good sign.🙂

    With writing, I can put exactly what’s in my head on the page. It’s so satisfying.

    On the flip side, some people aren’t born to create. My husband is the LEAST creative person I know. I have more creativity in my fingernail clippings than he does in his entire body. There isn’t an ounce of creativity in him.

  36. #42 by Terrell Mims on August 5, 2011 - 4:43 pm

    I believe we are born to create. Since we are created in the image of a Creator, I believe the creative gene is in every one of us no matter our occupation. However, the writers, artists, and musicians have tapped into it more.

  37. #43 by Kate MacNicol on August 5, 2011 - 4:59 pm

    Awesome post. My husband and kids are very supportive of my writing. My extended family gives me a blank stare slack jaw look when I discuss my writing. You can imagine my excitement when I learned my grandmother wrote a Christian living book in the 1940’s typed it on a typewriter, had it copied and tried to sell it door-to-door in order to buy an overseas missionary a car. She raised enough money for a bicycle. As far as I can tell she is the only person in my family who shared my love of books and reading. However — both of my kids are readers and one has pubbed several times in an international magazine so there you go. I wish I had a copy of Grandma’s book. What a treasure that would be.

  38. #44 by Spence on August 5, 2011 - 5:13 pm

    I’ve always been creative and get bored quickly with normal jobs. I’ve been active in music and writing for my entire life.

    My parents were not thrilled with my wanting to be a professional musician in my early 20’s, but now that I’m older (and have a steady day job, haha), they’ve been nothing but supportive since I published my first novel, Dead of Wynter.

  39. #45 by Miriam on August 5, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    I like this post🙂 My parents both took music at university, but my dad (with a PhD in Shostakovich) went on to become a civil servant. Hmm. And my mum, degree in music, went on to be a careers advisor, working way too hard for way too little.
    Well, since she’s a careers advisor I get a lot of ‘talks’ about what I want to do in life. For someone who knows all too well how little money I’m likely to make, my mum’s strangely encouraging of my ambition to be a writer and a dance teacher. With dance, she warns me to be realistic because I started so late, but with writing she never tries to give me advice. She knows from all I read that I understand how the industry works way more than she does.
    Now I’m getting asked to do short stories for and collaborations with proper authors, for which I’ll get paid. I’m 15. I like it when this happens, because it pays my sister (the least encouraging of my family, since she used to write and now does not) back for all those times she said, “You’ll never get anywhere with writing.”
    Bite me, Helena, I’m getting somewhere.

    • #46 by Miriam on August 5, 2011 - 5:15 pm

      Oh, and one other point – the only issues I have with my family are (a) when writing gets in the way of what I’m supposed to be doing, whether school work, tidying or music practice, or (b) when I rant about how much my characters are getting on my nerves, because they don’t get that😦

  40. #47 by Catherine Johnson on August 5, 2011 - 5:29 pm

    It would be interesting to hear from you how people’s opinion shifted as you became so successful. My hubby thinks it is an over-indulged hobby to stop me from getting bored being a stay at home mom. I think his opinion might have been better had I not so many books to buy all the time. And I really haven’t bought that many. He thinks Twitter is a joke and blogging a waste of time. I’ve just had my MIL over for three weeks with same attitude. Joy! I can’t wait until she comes back in Dec for five weeks.😛

  41. #48 by jamilajamison on August 5, 2011 - 6:17 pm

    Luckily, my parents and family have always been supportive of my writing. When I was younger, my mother always told me to keep it up regardless of what I chose for a career, and that she can see me publishing novels one day down the road.

    Neither of my parents write (my mom thinks that all the creative juices skipped a generation), but my mother’s aunts, uncles, and mom are all artistically-oriented. My nana and her siblings were dancers in high school, and one of my great-uncles went on to pursue ballet. Another great-uncle is a painter, and a great-aunt writes short stories on the side. And my nana seems to be a triple-threat of sorts, dancing and writing and painting even at the age of 71. I just learned that Nana has a portfolio stored in the living room filled with all of her grandchildrens’ creative endeavors — my stories, speeches, and research papers, my sister’s sketches, and my cousins’ poems. I guess we’ve turned out to be a family of creators!

  42. #49 by Leanne Shirtliffe on August 5, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    I love to tell stories. True ones. And I love to entertain. There’s a picture I nabbed from my mom’s album of me dressed up as Carol Burnett when I was 4. I came out to entertain my parents’ dinner guests, as a surprise to my mom and dad.

    I suspect I was partially born to write humour.

    Another interesting tidbit: my whacky sense of humour runs through my mom’s side of the family. You can really see who got it. So I’m convinced. Nature.

  43. #50 by Carrie Butler on August 5, 2011 - 7:01 pm

    Great post, Kristen! I touched on something similar a few weeks ago.
    ( http://soyoureawriter.blogspot.com/2011/07/fear.html )

    Before I aspired to become a novelist, I went through the motions of life. Yes, I had my share of small successes, but they didn’t reach me on that deep, soul-shattering level. When I finally started writing with a professional goal in mind, my (immediate) family noticed the change in me. I was happier, more alive than I’d been in years. They’ve been nothing but supportive since then. (Not that I can say the same for most of my extended family—but, hey, you’ll have that.)

    P.S. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one peddling homemade books as a child!😉

  44. #51 by Precie on August 5, 2011 - 7:16 pm

    Hmm…I actually think everyone has stories in them that they could write. Whether they do or not might be a matter of encouragement or motivation. And some people might have more innate talent at putting words together, but people with the committed drive to write can learn to do it well.

    I don’t tell many people I write…and I don’t talk much about my fiction writing, except with my small writing groups. It’s not an easy business or a quick process. It’s hard enough to write without adding external expectations.

  45. #52 by Deena Anreise on August 5, 2011 - 8:06 pm

    Kristen,

    Just heard rave reviews about you in a workshop with Laurie McLean (agent) and Marni Bates (author) at Willamette Writers Conference here in Portland. I’m a fellow blogger and author, and I look forward to scouring your posts.

    Deena

  46. #53 by Piglet in Portugal on August 5, 2011 - 8:38 pm

    I admire your courage to quit your job and write!

  47. #54 by Tamara LeBlanc on August 5, 2011 - 9:02 pm

    Wow! Intern to a Congresswoman? I don’t blame you for getting the heck out of Dodge and high-tailing it into something you were obviously born to do…write and teach.
    My parents are thrilled that I’m an author. So I’m a lucky gal. I’ve gotten alot of support.
    My children are both very creative. My son is a killer Lacrosse player, but is a fantastic artist. My daughter reads everything she can get her hands on and has been writing her own stories since she was five. Her first novel, Diary of a Snowman. I still have that three page story with a big fat A+ marked on the cover. One day I’ll bring it out again when she’s a big time author:)
    My first work of fiction, A Day in the Life of a Tennis Shoe. I got an A on that sucker.
    Like mother, like daughter.
    Yep, I believe we are truly born to create, in one way or another!
    Have a fabulous weekend!!
    Tamara

  48. #55 by Maribeth Hickman on August 5, 2011 - 9:36 pm

    Kristen, all of us are very glad you’re a writer and an excellent one too! I’ve recently read both of your social media books, and they are fantastic. I too have been through multiple careers—teaching, practicing law and home redesign. The common element in all of these was that I wanted to help people improve their lives and become all that they were created to be. I’ve finally realized that through nonfiction writing (which I dearly love) I can help far more people than I ever could in
    person. I’m just beginning to plan out the possibilities for a blog, and your books have been incredibly helpful. Thank you!

  49. #56 by virginiaripple on August 5, 2011 - 9:49 pm

    Oh wow! You hit the nail on the head: “I am actually really happy I was accepted to law school. It forced me to stand up for myself. I recall holding that letter in my hand. All I had to do was show up for orientation and buy my books, and I thought NO. I can’t do this anymore. I was born to WRITE. I don’t care if I am ever successful, at least I will be HAPPY.”

    I spent most of my life in ministry. I even went to seminary. A year before I was to complete my M.Div, I had a panic attack thinking about the hooding ceremony and the ensuing ordination. I couldn’t go through with it.

    I’d been writing all my life prior to getting my BA in English. After graduation I stopped. That last year at seminary I went back to writing again in hopes of making some money (seems going to grad school is very expensive!). I didn’t make a cent, but suddenly I was happier. That’s when I decided it was time to stand up for my dreams.

    We moved back to my hometown and I’ve been working toward my goal of making a living writing ever since.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  50. #57 by Kristen Fairgrieve on August 5, 2011 - 9:51 pm

    this post really hit home for me. i too sold my “novels” when i was little. i believe they were 5 cents if you bought a glass of lemonade from my stand, or something like that. i used to write stories for my 3rd grade English teacher. for fun! then when i went off to college my dad said “you better pick a good major, writers don’t make any money.” so sadly, off i went into an 18-year-long career NOT in writing. last september i left it behind and am now focusing solely on what i believe i was born to do – write! it may take some of us longer to figure it out, but you’re right, if it’s in your soul, there’s no fighting it.

  51. #58 by J. M. Dow on August 5, 2011 - 9:55 pm

    You know, now that you mention it, my family is very creative. My nanny likes to sing, I have an uncle who makes wood carvings, and my mom used to love to write, but she stopped because she had to have a job, and then she had kids, and then she never had time. My brother is now a music education major and wants to be a film composer. So…I’m gonna say it runs in the family. 😀 Thanks for reminding me that I come from good stock.

  52. #59 by Liana Brooks on August 5, 2011 - 11:15 pm

    I think genetics gives us a set baseline for who we are. There are some people born with limitations (Downs Syndrome ect). It is unlikely that a person born without feet will be the world’s greatest ballet dancer, but that’s as far as it goes.

    Nurture is responsible for a bulk of the choices. I suspect that if you look at your family you’ll find many of them pursue creative activities. Likewise, I suspect many of your friends are book lovers and creative, artistic types. They nurture you and your creative habits.

    In my own family almost everyone can draw. Grandma paints, my mother draws beautiful things, my sister can color-coordinate and paint. Me? I can barely doodle a flower that looks like a flower. But I can write. From a family of visual artists I became an author. It’s still creative, the process is similar in some ways and different in others.

    I never had to go through your law school ordeal. I love writing, and I love the hard sciences because of the challenge. I went to school for marine biology and loved every minute of my undergraduate years. I’m looking forward to going back for graduate school, but in the meantime… I write. I’ve written stories since kindergarten. I’ve scribbled ideas on the back of chemistry notes. I didn’t have to abandon one love for the other.

  53. #60 by Lexus on August 5, 2011 - 11:46 pm

    Nature. Hands down, it’s nature that has the biggest impact on who we are. Nature aka DNA dictates how our brains are wired. All the nurture in the world cannot make a storyteller out of a born engineer. Just ain’t gonna happen.

    And I believe the reason so many people are unhappy with their lives (me included) is that they fought against who they really are either to bend to their parents’ wishes, or simply to earn a living. As a single mom, I was in the latter category from my early 20’s on.

    I did ad sales and property management before going back to college. I wanted film school. Couldn’t afford that, so I went to journalism school instead. Yeah, I was finally writing for a living, but broadcast news was depressing and hardly the make believe world I longed to create.

    Only recently did I decide to seriously pursue writing with the notion that I may actually pay the rent with it. Only time will tell😉

  54. #61 by Joanna Aislinn on August 5, 2011 - 11:59 pm

    Okay, so I’ve fan-fictioned every show I ever loved since I was four and wrote my first fan-fic at age thirteen. I’m a ham at heart–was making microphones with shoestrings, Popsicle sticks, ping-pong balls and aluminum foil and putting on after dinner shows probably by age six. What would I do with myself in my perfect world? Get paid to sing first, speak publicly second, write tied for second.

  55. #62 by Amy Baker Wilson on August 5, 2011 - 11:59 pm

    Oh, how I hear you!

    I’m 46 and my day job is to fight pitbulls and junkies in some of the worst neighborhoods for a local utility company. It sucks and it’s dangerous, not to mention stressful. But when I talk about writing as a career, my mom still gets scared for me. Personally, running from angry Rottweilers is MUCH more frightening than any editor could ever possibly be (at least by a little), but I still hear that disappointed “Oh, Amy…” when I bring up writing.

    But my mom has played it safe her whole life, so she doesn’t understand the need to risk it all by pouring my heart out in words. She has never had a job outside the home for more than a year or two back in the 50s, and my dad always fully supported her love of playing classical music. Come to think of it, my dad was creative as well, making model ghost towns out of wood scraps.

    Hmm, maybe it is in the genes.

  56. #63 by Sandra Warren on August 6, 2011 - 2:38 am

    Writing was my worst subject in school. Still, from the time I was a little girl, I was a voracious reader and knew somewhere deep down, that I’d be a writer one day. I fought it through school and college and then, as fate would have it, problems my children had in school prompted me to take pen in hand. Now, after having work published in several genres I can say that you may be right. If we’re not born to create, perhaps we’re born with the destiny to create should we decide to follow that path.

  57. #64 by Taffy on August 6, 2011 - 3:53 am

    I think everyone is born to create. It’s a balance in the universe, in our own lives. My family showed no creativity as I grew up. I think it is up to each of us to find what we love to do and do it. We are each unique and must be our own true self. The universe waits for us to shine.

  58. #65 by janishaag on August 6, 2011 - 5:49 am

    Bravo, Kristen, for stepping out and declaring yourself a writer! You do a great job–love your blog! As a former journalist and editor, as well as a creative writer and writing teacher, I see people all the time who want to write and talk themselves out of it. I second your encouragement–just write! Take a class with an encouraging teacher (a good one makes you want to write more; bad ones make you want to write less… run from the latter!). Don’t worry about publication… just write! And when you do want to publish, consult Kristen for tips on how to do that. (She’s great!) I love the story about your mom doing a blog now… go, Mom!

  59. #66 by Stuart Land on August 6, 2011 - 6:27 am

    Actually, I must fall into the lawyer, policeman, firefighter’s category. I grew up in a dance family. My house was a ballet school. I danced with the NYC Ballet at ten. But I didn’t become a dancer. I knew I would never be as good as I wanted to be. I knew my limitations. Instead, I became many things (my bio is on my Web site). My parents were so liberal, they didn’t care what I became. They didn’t encourage or discourage me. Being a policeman was just as good as becoming a fine artist (both of which I did). I did see many of my friends going through what you described, and it scarred them for life. I’m sure I’ve been scarred, but in other ways. I think the main ingredient to a healthy life of a child is encouragement in what they want, not narrow guidance in what parents want for them.

  60. #67 by Jennifer Roberts on August 6, 2011 - 2:34 pm

    My family could not have been any less creative. In fact even when I make a scrap book of pictures my mother will say, “That’s nice. I could never do anything like that.

    As a kid I wanted to sing, dance, and play in the orchestra. I did all of these things, with all my heart to make up for my lack of natural talent. It wasn’t until I started teaching that I began to see my true creative spirit soar. Of course when I told my family I was leaving my actuarial career (bor-ing) to become a teacher I received the “You’re wasting your life. You’re wasting your education” speech from them. My father was so furious I was leaving insurance that he didn’t speak to me of six months.

    Sure, financially I make the least amount of anyone in my family. Fortunately my husband does quite well and we are financially sound. More importantly, when I look at my parents and my sister – I am the happiest of us all. Which is good for me, but so very sad for them.

    Teaching can be as simple as reading the script. But good teaching, solid teaching, teaching that helps every child reach their potential, teaching that helps me to know and understand how each and every one of the children in my class learns – that is an art. It takes knowledge, creativity, passion, love, and a little bit of OCD.

    Writing is new to me. But the more I write, the more I feel compelled to write. Some day I might attempt a children’s book. Or perhaps pursue my PhD in educational policy. Maybe I’ll just keep blogging and write a blog for parents and teachers. Or maybe I’ll simply continue to write for me.

    For now I get to sing, dance, and play games with my Kindergarteners and I love every minute of it.

  61. #68 by Jami Gold on August 6, 2011 - 5:06 pm

    Yes, I’d agree that I have to create. I made quite a few wrong turns in my life on how to express that creativity, but I finally got there. 🙂 (And I think you’ve inspired another blog post.)

  62. #69 by Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson on August 6, 2011 - 6:31 pm

    So here’s the thing: My great-grandmother wrote and self-published a book called “Memories of My Childhood in Zezmer.” To this day, everyone kvells over it. My grandmother was an Interior Decorator — not a writer — unless you count the funny letters she wrote me while I was in summer camp. My mother expresses herself through art and rants.

    Like you, I started writing early and peddled my staple bound masterpieces to the neighbors who paid 25 cents to read my poetry. All this wanting to be a writer shizz started right there with that first quarter and was reinforced by my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Church. I wrote a story called “The Girl Who Hiccupped Underwater” and she flipped out and dragged me to every grade and made me read it out loud.

    Can you say an attention whore was born?

    If I was going to get attention from my writing, then I was going to be a writer.

    So I became an English teacher who is forever lugging around her composition notebook. When people see me writing, they say: “Are you writing about me? Is this for your blog? Wait, this isn’t for you book is it?”

    In reality, I want to be a pole dancer when I grow up. And then write about it.😉

  63. #70 by Taylor on August 6, 2011 - 7:36 pm

    I’ve always been an artist and I’ve been writing hard for about three years. The toughest part for me is combining writing with marketing. I mean, I enjoy social networking, but I feel like setting up all these websites, and just trying to make them look cool, is never-ending. Everytime I see someone else’s hot design on their twitter page or just something cool they thought of to market their book I’m like “damn that is something else to work on.”

    Speaking of which, does anyone know how to get my picture to appear in the square beside the comment box? Instead of the triangle design thing? thanks!

  64. #71 by Jess Witkins on August 7, 2011 - 4:01 am

    Kristen, this is my biggest fear. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have folders and folders of stories I wrote as a kid, I’ve always kept a journal, and now 9 months into blogging I’m loving the community and thoughtful posts. But I feel at such a loss of making this happen for my career when I work a 50+ hour sales manager job. It’s a huge time-suck, and incredibly stressful, but if I just quit, I won’t have anything to support myself. That’s scary. Scarier than anything else. And though I’ve made it a commitment over and over again to try to work less, the people around me don’t always make that possible. When you first started planning to break away, how did you prepare yourself: financially, emotionally, and how did the people around you help?

    I’ve tried to get different jobs, but only 10% of what’s out there is in anything else besides sales. And I’ve applied! But every position has had over 200 applicants and I can’t even get an interview because all I’ve done is sales. It’s so frustrating. It feels like my life is put on pause. I’ve started scheduling time for myself to write and attend events at the local library. But I feel like I’m still crawling toward my main goal. Help. To any of you who’ve made that leap, HOW did you really do it? How did you support yourself enough to get to your dream?

  65. #72 by Beth-Ann Mason (@BethAnn_Mason) on August 7, 2011 - 4:11 pm

    Well, let’s see… six college majors and a “please return when you know what you want to be when you grow up” letter from the college later, along with at least 6 different “careers” and yup, you could’ve written my story too!

    I was sitting in my aunt’s closet (she’s 11 years older than I am) putting on her pointe shoes before I could *walk*. I danced until I was a sophomore in college and was in a car accident. I played more instruments than I can generally remember for most of high school and well into college. I *always* loved reading and writing. My mother wrote stories and poetry when she was in school, but never tried to publish it. It was just what a young hippie teen and her friends did!

    After my dad died this past November, I had no job to go back to, was already living at home with my mom, and realized the only thing that had gotten me through the last 2 years of Dad’s cancer was reading and writing. Two of my best friends also love to write, but were petrified to take the leap and, well, someone had to go first!

    Right now the only people who know that I’m working on a novel are my mom and brother (who is in college to be an electrical and computer engineer – and *loves* it – but his creative outlet is music!) and my closest friends who are helping and encouraging me along the way. I’m blessed to have these supportive people in my life, but, much like your story, the rest of my family has never been as supportive of my passions. Its taken me a long time to stop living “someone else’s dream” and decide I’m going to make my own dream. I wish I could’ve done it before my dad died so he could see me finish my first novel, but I know he’d be proud. The rest of my family wants me to go back to college, finish my degree in something “practical;” get a “real job” and move back out again. There are so many reasons these things are just unrealistic right now – but the most important is, I can’t be *that person* any more.

    So, thank you, Kristen, for having the courage to say ‘No.’ I was writing before, but I wasn’t “an author.” I didn’t have a platform or a cohesiveness or anything to show for my writing. I knew exactly 5 writers/authors. But, because you said “no,” and because you went on to develop the WANA book and program – because you set out to help people like me – I can now say I’ve got all of those things: A website (http://www.bethannmason.com), a blog, Twitter (@bethann_mason) and Facebook, I’m making new friends in the industry and for the first time in a really *long* time, I’m really happy. Your blog inspires me. Your books keep me focused and grounded and give me a very concrete formula and sense of direction. Your Tweets make me laugh and think.

    I can’t imagine what my world would be like today if you’d said “Yes.”

  66. #73 by Maryann Miller on August 7, 2011 - 4:14 pm

    Love the post, Kristen. I do believe that we are born to be writers. A good friend said once that writing is not what he does for a living, a writer is who he is. I laughed when I read that your grandfather wanted you to go into business. It was one of my grandfathers who encouraged my writing when I was just a child. He thought all my stories were wonderful.

  67. #74 by Phantomimic on August 7, 2011 - 5:32 pm

    In my case I had to decide which was my greatest love. I liked writing fiction but, at the time, I liked science even more. So I went into science and my family did not object. I have been able to make a decent living and write the required technical articles for many years but then I decided I wanted to go back to writing. However, it would be suicide for me to quit my day job. I have too many responsibilities (too many people depend on me), but in my spare time I blog and I write and I plan to self-publish soon.

  68. #75 by Elizabeth Hamm (@LizzieBelina) on August 7, 2011 - 7:10 pm

    I know how it feels to be forced into a “stable job,” well sort of. In my case, my mother thought writing was too unstable she’s willing to find her friends in the publishing industry but she thinks I need to be there right now! She doesn’t understand the process of a few months of editing, hating everything you write, and then coming back going “No, this will work.” She’s creative and has dyslexia too. She had me look at something she was writing when I was born but won’t anymore because my inner editor kicked in. I’m in college now and going for Broadcasting and Multimedia Studies (which is just a fancy term for humanities sampling). She thinks those are more stable than writing but it’s production and art, so I don’t know how her mind works.

    I think we are sort of born with an itch with what we want to be or what we should be. My mother draws and even is better than me. My father was always into cars. I am a writer through and through. That’s just how it is.

  69. #76 by Marji Laine on August 8, 2011 - 3:48 am

    I know writers have horror stories about the scathing remarks of their friends and families. What a blessing you have been to yours with the confidence of your choice.

    I do not have those horror stories. My family is so supportive. They not only love that I’m writing, they also don’t let me get down on myself. I’m truly having the time of my life!

  70. #77 by forbiddenhero on August 8, 2011 - 6:04 am

    I wasn’t sure if my family would approve of me being a writer. I mean, I put them through a lot when I was young, and I thought they’d just say that I was being an idiot again. Then I noticed that my grandmother had notebooks filled with stories that she had written.

    Then, after I had decided to make writing my career, my older brother started playing with writing. He never went anywhere with it. His stories were never very good, and I couldn’t tell him or else he’d just brush me off as the younger brother. Within the past few years, my mother has taken up script writing. She’s currently jobless in hopes of making a website based around cooking videos and teaching kids how to cook.

    Anyway, my point is that even though I felt as though my family would reject my idea of being a writer, I knew that I had to go for it. I haven’t been able to do anything with my talents lately, but I have no means to support myself and I write the best when finances are taken care of or I’m working on that.

  71. #78 by Marilag Lubag on August 8, 2011 - 7:50 am

    Hmmm… It took me a while to embrace my destiny. I’ve always loved to create things. Growing up, I used to draw and write a lot as well as crochet and embroider. I came from a family of artists on my father’s side. They’re really good drawers and painters. Writing, on the other hand, is special to me.

    I used to write poems to pour out my feelings. There’s just something cathartic about it. I loved stories and even tried my hands on writing a crappy novel at fifteen. Creating is fun. When my mom forced me to become a nurse (I hated hospitals and was depressed about it) and failed nursing, I forced myself into business–accounting to be exact. I don’t exactly hate accounting since I love everything about money (though, looking back, I should’ve taken finance). My colored pencils had been the class’s running joke for years (that and my mind maps). After graduation, I decided to write for a while. I was so focused on producing results that I got the dreaded writer’s block. Finally, I got my job as a way to combat my writer’s block. It’s a way for people to get off my back while still pursuing my dreams.

    Writing for me is still a work-in-progress. Until I find my way back to my inner child, I’ll keep on hitting that writer’s block over and over again. Still, I’ll keep on writing. I realized that I don’t like it when people ask me how my novel is going. I’m writing for me. Then, one day, I’ll produce my #1 bestselling novel and the world will realize that I never give up on my dreams.

  72. #79 by Radha Pyari Sandhir on August 8, 2011 - 8:23 am

    I really do think that we’re born to create. I know I, personally, need to feel that I’m doing something creative and useful, otherwise I’ll probably explode due to restlessness. The wasted talent out there of people who are stuck on career paths they don’t find stimulating makes me sad. Unfortunately many are forced into such situations. Hell, even I could eventually end up as one if them if I don’t get what I want; I began my career path only last year.😛

    Writing is what I’d like to make my ‘side career’ since I love scientific research as much as I love to write, and I eventually want to become a mad Professor. However, I have taken a few months off from my research career in order to learn as much as I can about writing and at least outline the stories I have in my head. My husband has been incredibly supportive about the whole thing, despite the fact that I won’t be contributing to the household income for a bit (not that research actually pays well… :P). My parents have been super supportive as well!

  73. #80 by Kimberly Mullican on August 8, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    I published my first novel via vanity press. Yes, I’ve learned that it was a huge mistake (which is why you don’t see me mentioning or pushing it!). But my parents have a novel, with my name and picture on it. They have always been supportive and already think I’m a rock star! Gotta love the parents.

    Alas, I still maintain a day job in sales, which really eats into the writing time. But I must agree, it’s a calling. Whatever urge we have to create, it seems to run deep.

    Another great post! TY

  74. #81 by Juliana on August 8, 2011 - 5:27 pm

    Ah…if only it had occurred to me 17 years ago NOT to go to law school…

  75. #82 by Julie Glover on August 9, 2011 - 4:27 pm

    I never sent in my law school application. Took that dang LSAT, but couldn’t quite send in the paperwork.

    As for my famiy’s response, when I announced to my mother that I had written a novel, she simply replied, “Well, it’s about time.” It’s as if my whole family knew I should be writing books. I’ve written as long as I can remember, but I didn’t know if I had a whole manuscript in me. Turns out I have more than one. We’ll see just how many!

  76. #83 by smackedblogger on August 9, 2011 - 4:57 pm

    I’ve always had a love for writing (doodling really) but my family has never been very supportive. In school, when my classmates were doing lines for punishments my teachers would make me write short stories, then take them home to have my parents sign off on them. – strike 1.

    After my parents forced me to major in sciences I rebelled and quit uni to take a summer abroad in the states, that summer lasted 10 years and involved an incomplete degree in journalism. – strike 2.

    Along the way I dabbled here and there with short story/novella writing. After b.s.ing my way into an advanced creative writing course (so I could skip some banal prerequisites) I managed to win a fiction prize at the college I was attending in Philadelphia. Upon instruction I incorporated ‘what I knew’ into a story about a youth’s coming of age as he sought to discover his father as person and not just parent. Proud as I was I sent the college lit mag to my parents. Disgusted by what he wrongly thought was my factual perception of him, my father refused to speak to me in person for two years. – strike 3… Your out.

    Not until I returned home to the UK a few months ago and my Dad pulled out the above story in accusation during an argument, did I put pen to paper (finger to keyboard in actuality) outside the classroom. That one story, could affect him so deeply even ten years on, has motivated me to start ‘doodling’ again. So no, I definitely don’t think it’s always in the genes. My parents idea of creativity is hard boiled instead of scrambled.

    I have only started my blog today under the assumption of learning by doing and so that I may get some anonymous feedback to said doodlings.

    • #84 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on August 12, 2011 - 5:13 am

      I have only started my blog today under the assumption of learning by doing and so that I may get some anonymous feedback to said doodlings.

      Learning by doing. I prefer Practice Makes Perfect and recently wrote a short article titled You aren’t a Writer if you don’t Write.

      If you do write, you are a writer. It doesn’t matter whether you get paid or not, you are still a writer. Mind you, it’s nicer when you start getting paid. It also makes your family happier. I know it made mine happier, and you get a lot more respect from the rest of the world when you can say you are a professional (which is what getting paid means you are).

      Ask the cops. That’s why prostitution charges are only laid when money changes hands. If the sex is free of charge, the cops can’t lay prostitution charges.

      Wayne

      • #85 by smackedblogger on August 12, 2011 - 9:33 pm

        I completely I agree with you on this point I should probably clarify that the statement “learning by doing,” was specifically referring to the art and logistics of blogging. That’s a bloody lot of buttons taunting me on that dashboard. So before allowing my frustration to manifest as my laptop moonlighting as a frisbee, I decided to say f@$& it and just dive in. As you say, “practice makes perfect.” Contrary to the popular and self imposed belief, my laptop will not fugitate in protest of my ill formed blog. Unlike my last partner, wordpress will willingly give me another chance no matter how often I verbalize what a piece of shit it is.

        • #87 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on August 12, 2011 - 10:18 pm

          Ouch, oh, pardon me while I pick myself up off the floor. Yes, I agree. WordPress can be an adventure in frustration to start with, but it does pay dividends if you are patient.

          Keep your guitar, or other soother beside your desk. When I get frustrated I stop and play for a while to get rid of the stress. And when I say play, I don’t play any songs in particular, my fingers just wander the strings. Or pick up your sketch pad and sketch. Just do something that takes you away from the computer, that doesn’t take a lot of concentration, and that relaxes you.

          Then when you go back, the frustration will have abated, you won’t want to frisbee the laptop, and you’ll be more likely to get something done.

          Wayne

  77. #88 by carol ritzel on August 10, 2011 - 4:51 am

    i believe if we are born to be creative it will show at a very early age 2,3 yrs.old it isnt something you talk about its something you start doing. it stays with you a life time. i started writing stories at 8yrs.old before i went to bed then hoped i would dream about them. also when i was 8 yrs old my parents bought me lots of toys i would put them in my red wagon and sell them door to door.something incommon with yall.i have been writing journal for over 25 yrs. i thought i should turn it into a novel. i went to one of the top ten private creative design colleges in the world and proud to say i have a bfa .my parents gave me so much freedom to do what i wanted i never had to worry about money.my bills are getting paid i have had 3 great careers and now its time for a book.twitter has truly insrired me thats how i found kristen lamb thank you for the inspiration.

  78. #89 by thestifledartist on August 10, 2011 - 5:48 am

    I ask this question a lot myself. Just stumbled onto your blog via Albert Berg’s Unsanity Files blog, which I also stumbled onto today via Freshly Pressed. Whodathunk.

    As for me, I grew up in an immediate family of musicians, writers, dancers, artists and entrepreneurs, some of us all of the above. Whenever I worked a “straight” job, I got flack from my dad in the form of, “are you sure you’re happy?”

    I have worked in the legal industry, the food industry, the publishing industry, the outdoor industry, the coffee biz, the restaurant biz and so on. Never was I so happy as when I became a freelancer full-time. Economy woes have me working at a library now, part-time, in addition, but I’m OK with that. It’s complementary to my writing and music, which I do in every available moment I have.

    I wrote from the time I was little: poems, stories, young author’s awards, English accolades and recommendations from teachers…I spent my free time interviewing neighbors on the block, creating my own newsletter and library in elementary school. Me and one of my best friends wrote fictional news stories in the form of passed notes about the school blowing up and people spontaneously combusting — 18 years later, she is the first guest post on my blog. Life is grand, and completely a mystery. But I love writing, and do it every day. I get a kick out of reading about other creative people.

  79. #90 by thestifledartist on August 11, 2011 - 6:32 am

    Linked your post, btw. http://thestifledartist.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/sometimes-creatives-breed-creatives/ It’s been interesting to see how this post is breeding other provocative posts.

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  4. Creatures of creation? | Beth-Ann Mason, Paranormal Romance Author
  5. Nature or nurture? Why writers are compelled to write. Part 1 « M J Wright
  6. Sometimes, Creatives Breed Creatives « Thestifledartist's Blog
  7. Writer Meltdowns: Guest Post by Jess Witkins « Gene Lempp's Blog
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  9. Book Expectations | Kait Nolan
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  14. What To Do When Your Loved Ones Want You To Quit Your Dream - Marcy Kennedy
  15. What To Do When Your Loved Ones Want You To Quit - Marcy Kennedy

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