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How My Parents Unwittingly Raised Me To Be A Writer And How A Friends Influence Eventually Showed Me My Future Career

Updated on April 13, 2016

A common mistake parents often make is setting unrealistic expectations on their children; and doing all they can to push them in that direction. In my case my parents, especially father; were determined to push me to become a Pediatrician. However sometimes; in all their effort parents unknowingly introduce to their child an avenue of obsession to which they did not at all intend. My parents unwittingly fostered in me a love of reading. Disappointed, they repeatedly tried again to redirect me to a medical profession; without success. Added to all this; a friend introduced me to writing and unknowingly thus set the path of my future career.

How It All Began:

My family had always created high expectations for their children. Mainly it was because they placed their failed dreams of success on the future generation; in order to obtain the prestige that they themselves never obtained. On my father’s side of the family; there was an unspoken precedent for children to become doctors or medical specialists; which some generations had achieved. It was considered a standard to maintain. When I was 5 years old reached the considered age where the ‘training’ was often set up. On my 5th birthday; among the usual gifts; I was handed a dictionary. My older brother too had been handed the same gift when he was 5. In my parents minds, they; for some reason; thought that by setting out portions of reading of a dictionary; it would be the correct ‘tool’ needed to increase a child’s intellect. I took to this task without any protest and soon began to enjoy the customary reading time. By the next year when beginning primary school; I had developed a vocabulary far beyond children of my age. Due to this; my parents assumed that their ‘training’ was proving successful. By the second grade; I had developed a love for reading and would ask my teacher for access to the reading books assigned to the higher grades. She complied and would give me a book and when I handed it back; would give me the next one; and so went on an odd practice. My parents had laid a foundation for a path I would follow they would end up regretting.

A Collection Of Works By Enid Blyton
A Collection Of Works By Enid Blyton | Source
A Collection Of Works By Roald Dahl
A Collection Of Works By Roald Dahl | Source

The Surprising Growth For My Love Of Reading:

Around age 7; I asked my mother if we could start going to the town library to take out books; and she complied. Walking into the children’s section was; as the cliché goes, love at first sight. I searched carefully through each sub-section and excitedly gathered a large pile of books that seemed interesting. I then learned that I was only allowed to check out about half amount of books I had. I reluctantly took out those that seemed the best; and tried to memorise the titles of the ones I had left behind. At home; I would take every opportunity I had to read; my father though was quick in reinforcing school work not being neglected. I developed a habit were I would have a book close at hand and when watching cartoons on TV; each time the commercials came on I would grab it and start reading. At first my family did not seem to mind; but gradually, their irritation started showing with my ‘pointless’ obsession. They of course wanted a child who would be a doctor; not a bookworm; and obviously hoped it would be a passing phase. The more I read; I discovered my favourite authors: Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. I would search for any of their books each time I visited the library. Enid Blyton remains my favourite childhood author; and to this day I have a small collection of her books; mainly the ‘Famous Five’ series.

Progression In Genres:

Moving to a new town at age 8; the first place I had to locate was the public library. By age 9; I grew dissatisfied with the children’s section and ventured into those for teenagers. I had asked my brother if I could borrow some of his books to read; and he didn’t seem to mind. I came across the ‘Animorphs’ series and tried to read all the books the library had in stock. By that time; my parents had reluctantly accepted my obsession with reading; but they never stopped trying to keep pushing a future medical profession on me.
Around age 11, I became interested in adult fiction novels. When searching around those vast sections; I found the size and thickness of the books astounding. The first time my mother and I checked out books from the fiction side; a conversation that was both entertaining and confusing ensued with the librarian. I should add that I was extremely small for my age; most of the clothes that fitted me at the time were for ages 7-8. The conversation went something like this:

Librarian: (Picking up one of the books I had chosen) “I’ve read this book; I don’t know many of the author’s books but this one I couldn’t put down.” (She had addressed my mother)
My Mother: “Oh that one isn’t for me”
Librarian: (Slightly confused) “So, you chose it for your husband then?”
My Mother: (Indicating to me) “No, it’s one my daughter chose, she loves reading.”
Librarian: (With a look of utter confusion turns to face me) “Oh… well, um, enjoy it.”

I still laugh when I remember or relate that story to someone. Soon after that I got hooked onto both crime fiction and non-fiction. That trend has stuck; and to this day that genre makes up the majority of books that I possess. There are a few authors that; if I come across one of their books; I’ll buy and read without even looking at the synopsis. The main ones would have to be: John Grisham; Ruth Rendell; Tess Gerritsen and Sidney Sheldon.

Being Introduced To Writing And The Effect:

In the last year of school; I befriended a girl; Kyra, who had the same interest as me: reading. I soon found out though; that her passion lay mainly in writing and art. She had accumulated a collection of short proses; poems both long and short; and many drawings, some that matched her poems. She began trying to encourage me to start writing. I didn’t take the bait easily. I was a reader; not a writer. I had never written anything other than school essays; in fact, I had never considered the fact that writing could be a plausible hobby for me.

Over the next few weeks Kyra managed to convince me to try writing a few pieces. The only problem was that I had no idea what to write about. She had said it could be about anything; but my mind kept hitting blanks. I was too used to being given a topic on which to write; to the point that I didn’t know how to create anything on a topic I had to first think of. It was extremely frustrating as I could not force out one idea in my head. I told her this. Her advice is something I still use to this day: If an idea doesn’t form naturally in your head, it’s pointless to try even harder to think of something. Your best pieces are always the ones that start slowly forming and develop to a point where you simply have to grab a pen and let your mind form each sentence as you go along. You are not going to enjoy writing something which you had to toil to squeeze out of your head first; it won’t be something that would be enjoyable. And writing is just that; something you do for the simple reason that you enjoy it.

From that point on I began doing just that; writing for the pure enjoyment of it. Once leaving school; I knew I simply had to make a career of it. I love writing and I would happily spend hours going over and polishing something I had written; as opposed to sitting in an office doing little more answering calls and entering data into a computer. If I did that; I would end up hating my life. I needed to spend majority of my time doing something I loved and had a passion for; in order to feel fulfilled in life.

The Bitter-Sweet Result:

My parents; of course; were highly disappointed in me. To this day; they do not believe that I have chosen a viable career. They made it plain that they do not approve of my choice and often say that they are simply waiting to see me fail and realise what a foolish mistake it was.

That’s how I ended up where I am today. I’m finally beginning the journey to building up myself and succeeding in my passion. One of my main goals is showing my family how wrong they were; and showing Kyra and those who believe in me that I am determined in making a success of myself.

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    • DanaDoes profile image
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      Dana Culverwell-Solomon 20 months ago from Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, South Africa

      Thank you Mike

      Sounds like the library knew what it was doing. That system sounds just right for kids; almost a game of sorts.

      That librarian sounds like she was very glad to have a 'returning customer'.

      I haven't delved much into the science fiction genre, but from what others have said and now the future predicting habits; sound like a genre I need to start exploring.

      A lot of people I know have never set foot in a library, not even the ones that were at school. There seems to be too many distractions thrown at them by society...

      I'm simple glad they did. Had they not I am definitely sure I wouldn't even be writing any of these Hubs

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      Old Poolman 20 months ago

      Dana - Yet another really great hub.

      I happen to share your love of the library. Keep in mind that when I was in grade school there was no TV, Video Games, or many other distractions. Our school teacher took us to the public library on a field trip and showed us how to use the card catalog to find books. I believe this was called the "Dewey Decimal System" of organizing books.

      The librarian was a very nice lady and we became very good friends. Every time I visited the library she would have a book tucked away under the counter she suggested I read. I read every type of book possible including science fiction. Surprisingly, some of the things described in these science fiction books has come true today.

      Just think how different it might be if your parents had not given you that dictionary.