Having a vocation

old typewriter

I recently read this post by Sara over at Mum turned Mom. She discusses her difficulties with pronouncing to the world that she is a ‘writer’. I understand. I haven’t thought much about how I label myself in recent years, preferring to just live out each day and fulfil each role necessary (you know the score: care-giver, cook, cleaner, employee, nurse, driver, decision maker, party planner, and on, and on…) but nowadays I manage to squeeze in ‘blogger’ and ‘reader’ and ‘commentator’ too.

The problem Sara has is that she loves to write, she lives to write, but she isn’t a paid and published author. I’m the same and it got me thinking about vocation. I believe this word, this concept, has been commandeered by the careers police – those who would seek to define each person by what they do to earn their money.

I knew from an early age that I was in love with words, reading voraciously and writing for pleasure. I was steered through otherwise murky career waters by my Mum who could see what I had in me, even while I was floundering and being seduced by the idea of a Media Studies degree (pah ha ha!). I studied journalism ‘vocationally’ (at HND level) and then, disillusioned with mass market periodicals, I turned back to education and stuck my head firmly back into a *lot* more books in the shape of a four year literature degree which I loved and which I will never regret despite it doing absolutely sod all to show me which way to face as the subject of career choice once again loomed large. For me, delving into literature was like lifting a dark curtain on the rich cultural fabric of life.

At this point, I’ll throw my hands up and admit it – I’ve been a bit lazy OK? I could have done more with my life career-wise. I happen to believe that I’m as good a writer as plenty of people out there who get paid handsomely for the privilege of wearing ‘writer’ as their no.1 hat. The difference is in the drive but I still see ‘writer’ as my true vocation in life as defined in the dictionary thusly:
“an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which he or she is suited, trained, or qualified”. If you want (or are able or inclined) to earn money from this occupation then great, but if you don’t, why should that make it any less a part of who you are and for that matter, who you claim to be?

Because I was timid, crippled by self-doubt and woefully lacking in useful contacts as a very young woman, then lost in the detritus of everyday life, I never thought too long and hard about ‘making it happen’. Since that time I have been overtaken by munchkins intent on gathering up my rolling marbles, lost through a combination of childbirth and enforced custody in the padded cells of soft play, and they’ve been demanding a ransom of Peppa Pig ice lollies and Actimels in order to return them.

But finally some kind of fog is clearing. Reading and engaging with others who are pushing themselves forwards into a brave new world in which they embody their true vocation – well its opening my eyes to the possibilities.

And despite everything I have said about being a bit lazy and lacking a bit of drive, I know I can achieve great things – after all I completed a 20,000 word post-graduate dissertation on the subject of Information Overload (!) so just imagine what I could do with a subject I was truly engaged in…


Mama and Mored

7 thoughts on “Having a vocation

  1. This is such a lovely post to read, you have vocalised a lot of thoughts that have been swirling in my head, and of course the mention is very much appreciated (it’s these moments, where something you’ve written makes someone think, that really do make it all worthwhile and think that maybe you have a chance of making a dream a reality, so thank you). You have done far more than me to realise your dream, I did an engineering degree, opting for the safe option of a job and career that paid me… Having said that, by the time I left engineering I was spending 80% of time writing; any reports/bid documents/articles that needed to be done, they all came my way! So, perhaps without realising it I was already gravitating towards my ‘vocation’. Mind you, I didn’t really have a lot of competition in a room full of engineers to be the one who could make a technical report more engaging! I love your writing, your posts are always so considered and comprehensive, and engaging; you are a writer! I’ll leave it there before this comment becomes an essay in itself 🙂 Here’s to turning a dream into a reality xx

  2. I can only echo both your own and Sara’s thoughts. I’ve always loved to write – the written word was always the weapon of choice for the stammering, almost pathologically shy teenager who still inhabits this grown man’s body – but, like Sara, ended up following a ‘safe’ career path of a science degree and then moving into business. Before I started blogging I always wondered ‘what if?’ and harboured hopes of writing a book (yeah, I know, so cliche!) But I’ve found blogging and the universe that surrounds it immensely fulfilling. I get as much out of reading now as I do out of writing.

    • That’s good to know Tim. I guess the difference between you and Sara and me is that you both carved out successful well paid careers for yourselves! I, on the other hand, didn’t have another career or aptitude to turn to which, you would have thought, would make me fight for a career in writing but I too took the ‘safe’ option and ended up as a public servant of sorts. I’m happy enought with the job but it doesn’t stretch me, it doesn’t challenge me or give me a creative outlet. It’s only now, through blogging, that I feel it’s not too late to be a writer. Never too late as long as you can find an audience! 🙂

  3. A ‘vocation’ isn’t something that I’ve ever really felt. I dropped into my first job as a gap year thing, which before I knew it had me as a retail manager, but maybe it’s no coincidence that it was in a bookshop?! And then my job in financial services saw me climbing ladders and enjoying the challenges, but I would never say that was a vocation or really ‘chosen’ – does anyone dream of a career in mortgages and management?! But now, now I’m at home with my kids which does feel worthwhile, and then I blog, so I write, and I’ve done a little freelance writing. My heart tells me that this is what I was made for, I am a writer, even if not in the conventional sense. We will see where it takes me, and I look forward to seeing where it takes you, too x

    • You’re definitely a writer Jocelyn – but I think first and foremost, your real talent lies in planning, organising and strategising – skills which would probably bring you success in whatever arena you chose to go into. You don’t waver, you’re confident about what you do and how you do it and you clearly enjoy it which shines from your blog! I guess the thing about being a ‘writer’ is that there is no conventional. From advertising copywriter, to writer of children’s picture books or fully fledged fiction author – so much scope. X

  4. A brilliant post Sam and one that has definitely made me think. I always manage to describe myself as a writer, but usually justify this by adding… that I’m not particularly good at it!
    If you can write 20,000 words on Information Overload for you dissertation… I’m sure that you are capable of so much more on a topic that you love! Good luck x

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