Missed a week again, so catching up again… Story of my life, I suppose. I sort of had an excuse for not posting last Monday, but I could have caught up later in the week. I just couldn’t be arsed. So, double post today!
Without further ado, this is question 64: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I cannot remember what I wanted to be when I was a little child. The earliest I sort of started thinking about it was when I had to choose my subjects in secondary school, and at the time I thought I was going to be an astronomer. This delighted my then physics teacher, who did everything he could to further encourage me in this endeavour (including lending me the school’s antique telescope, which I used to observe a lunar eclipse).
This lasted until I went to Leiden University’s open day and visited the astronomy presentation, which was advertised as ‘astronomy/physics’. Bizarrely enough I had not realised up until that point that studying astronomy would involve a fuckton of physics. I had this rather naive idea that I’d just be sitting outside and watching the stars. Anyway, that put paid to that ambition. My poor physics teacher never had to go through the disappointment of me abandoning this intention, as he suddenly and sadly passed away just before Christmas when I was (I think) seventeen. I remember going to his funeral on my birthday, I just can’t remember which exact birthday it was.
Anyway, with astronomy out the window, I had to decide what to study instead, and I cottoned on to the fact that I was quite good at languages. From then it became a process of elimination. Everyone expected me to study English (because I loved it and was really good at it), which is why I didn’t. (Also, I already spoke English, so what was the point?) I didn’t want to do German, because at the time I didn’t really like German (silly me – German is an awesome language). I couldn’t do French because I’d dropped it two years earlier. Finnish sounded like fun, but I didn’t want to have to go all the way to Groningen for it, and Groningen has the only university that offers Finnish (or Hungarian for that matter). Italian I already spoke a little, Spanish I had no interest in. Eventually I thought it might be fun to learn a language with a different alphabet, and it became a toss-up between Arabic and Russian. I picked Russian mainly because I could do that in Leiden, which was commutable.
Note that I didn’t pick Russian because I was in any way, shape or form interested in the country (or its literature). Big mistake.
I finished my study, eventually, but I have never done anything with it whatsoever. I have a masters degree in arts, but that is it. At about age 35 I realised that what I should have done was comparative linguistics, but hey.
So no, I didn’t plan on being a writer.
See what others said in Jay Dee’s original post.
Onwards to question 65: What would you say to someone to convince them to read the genre you write in?
Frankly, I’m not sure that I’d try. Sure, if someone said ‘oh, I’ve never really read Fantasy or Romance before, what’s it like?’, then I’d explain that I love Fantasy because of its grand themes of good against evil, the fact that anything goes, including (especially!) magic, because I love seeing the worlds and creatures and concepts that authors can come up with. I love Romance because you’re guaranteed a happy ending, and the fun is in the journey to get to that happy ending. I even love the crappy romances because you can roll your eyes at them and swear at the protagonists for being so stupid.
But someone who comes to me and says they don’t like one or the other, or both genres? Why would I try to convince them otherwise? I’d be pissed off if they tried to convince me to read more literary fiction, or more Russian classics, because those are not the kind of books I enjoy. It especially pisses me off if they try to convince me not to read Fantasy or Romance because ‘it’s nothing but escapism’. I mean, do they expect me to go ‘omg, I never realised! You opened my eyes! I shall mend my evil escapist ways immediately and sit down with some real literature!’
Like fuck I will. Newsflash: escapism isn’t a bad thing! As long as I don’t go around wearing a robe thinking I’m Gandalfette the all-powerful wizardess, what the fuck do they care if I escape into a different world in my free time?
To each their own. If you want to read my escapist Fantasy Romances, there they are. If it’s not your thing, I’m not going to try and convince you otherwise.
Other people’s answers and genres are here in Jay Dee’s blog.