When I'm interviewed, I'm often asked when I decided to become a writer. That always makes me smile, because I feel like I've always been a writer. I can't say that there was any decision involved. It was like breathing. However, writing as a career was another matter.
I grew up at a time when women were being encouraged to make their mark in the corporate world—and I did. I had a very successful decade at two major international corporations, and I managed to do quite while. Even got so far as having an office with a door. But I never felt like I was in the right place. Of course, I was still writing, mostly pouring out poetry filled with memories and dreams and the wish for a life with more words in it.
I thought that perhaps graduate school would help. I continued to work full time and started pursuing a Masters in English Lit part time. I loved the immersion in literature and the lively discussions about things we were reading. However, I could tell after about 8 months that academe was not where I'd be dropping anchor, at least not as my career.
Then, at the end of my first year of graduate school, a professor who was, how shall we say it, not my absolute favorite, scrawled across my final paper that I was a brilliant writer, but unfortunately, the qualities that make a great writer rarely make a great scholar. He meant the comment as scathing criticism, but for me, it was like my fairy godmother had hit me with her wand, breaking the spell that had kept me from considering writing as my life.
At that moment, everything changed. Instead of wandering, I had direction. I knew what I had to do. I had to get out; quit. The plan was to save enough money to walk away from the corporate world and take a couple of years off to start my career over as a writer.
It took a while to build that new career, but it was that moment when the professor handed me that paper that I knew who I was. He had meant it to turn me around, and it did, though in a different direction than he expected. I was free. I was a writer. I was on my way.
Causes Cynthia Clampitt Supports
Feed the Hungry, Project Angel Tree, Wheels for the World, Feed the Poor