What would you be if you weren’t an author?
I get this question from time to time and I actually find it rather odd. It’s like asking me to contemplate what would happen if I were a blonde. Well, obviously, I’d have more fun, but that’s beside the point. So, who would I be if I weren’t me? There are a few possibilities.
From Fauxtographer to Photographer
I’ve had a few friends over the years who have introduced and reintroduced me into the world of photography, and I used to tag along during their adventures trying to get the best shot for their classes. We walked through town, went into the city and into the country. Eventually, I started doing it too. Most “real” photographers would consider me a “fauxtographer”, someone who “jumps on the photography bandwagon by ‘pointing-and-shooting’ hundreds of terrible pictures, which they will upload to [Facebook] in an album titled ‘My Photography'” as defined by the Urban Dictionary. I don’t consider myself that bad, but then again I’m not a “real” photographer either. I just find that it’s another way through which to experience life. I’m not the sort of person who would just go hiking. Taking pictures, no matter how terrible, not only gives me a purpose for gallivanting out places as an indoor girl I have no business being, but it also gives me the space between whatever is going on and me. It allows me to share the beauty that I see.
Perhaps if I had no other creative outlet, I might learn all those things that other photographers know. Things like lens, light, developing techniques, and composition. It’d be fun.
Armchair Psychologist to Cognitive Psychologist
I think one of the most common misconceptions made about me is that I hate people mostly because I say it all the time, but I actually don’t. I actually find others to be fascinating. I enjoy people for the same reason that I love writing, you’re all complex, walking, talking puzzles. (In 4D to boot!) So, when I took AP Psychology in high school, it was for fun, and the teacher was baffled that I didn’t want to take the advanced placement test.
When I got to college, I had a small crisis of identity. The Creative Writing major had some defects, one of them being a certain professor who as much as I liked him, I also hated him. He refused to let us write anything within my genre effectively ruining the whole purpose of doing what I enjoyed. The second reason for considering a serious change in major was poetry. I apologize to all of my friends who are reading this who are poets, but I hate poetry. And in order to finish the Creative Writing major, I’d have to take three poetry writing classes. So, under the belief that I was going to spend several years doing something that I hated, I considered making other arrangements. When I thought about what I did enjoy almost without fail, Psychology came into the picture. I had already taken, Psychology 101 (twice since it’s the same as AP), Stress and Coping (part of a series of required classes), Psychology of Personality, Social Psychology, and Language Acquisition. What kept me from choosing psychology? Statistics. Part of the Psychology major (and minor) was passing a Statistics class, something I was unable to pass in high school let alone at the college level. However, if I didn’t spend all of my free time writing, who knows? Maybe I could have passed it and become a psychologist. I know that seems like the blind leading the blind there, but… On second thought, I’m not finishing that sentence.
P.S. I changed my major to Language and Discourse, CSUH’s version of the linguistics major, a combination of all of my favorite things, psychology, English, and science. Also, literature was never in the running, because I actually read rather slowly, and it cut into my pleasure reading time.
Creative to Chemist
This one might seem like it comes out of left field, but that should give you an idea the power of a truly amazing teacher. Once again, we’re back in high school. I had the chance of taking either Physics or Chemistry. Physics had far too much math to make me comfortable, so Chemistry it was. My teacher was amazing. So amazing that I became her aide, and I got to sit through and listen to her lecture twice. It was probably the wisest thing that I ever did, because she was the one who gave me my very first A. Somewhere in this, I should have mentioned that I was a slacker to make that last part seem more impressive, but still, it was my very first A, and it was in Chemistry of all things.
In the following year, I got an even better surprise. Every year, California has a standardized test called the Golden State Exam in Chemistry which includes a lab portion. Only the smartest kids ever got certificates of aptitude, so when they started passing them out, I put my head down writing.
Then, they said it. “Colleen C—-?”
I was writing, so I didn’t say anything.
Someone tapped me from behind and whispered, “Colleen, it’s you.”
I looked up and replied, “ME?!”
Handing me the certificate, the administrator laughed. “Yes, you.”
And as I glanced down at the beautifully embossed certificate reading “Honors in Chemistry”, I had to wonder if they were high.
But it just goes to show you what can happen if you have a great teacher. She took a little slacker, who was only interested in English, and turned her into someone who could have been a chemist. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, she was a Chemistry teacher, and I’ve heard that their specialty is transforming things.
It’s so strange thinking about all the things that I could have been, because I don’t do it that often. I’ve been writing for so much longer than I did any of those things that it seems unfathomable that I should be anything different. However, I feel comfortable saying that, even without writing, I would have been awesome.