There aren’t many things in life I’m sure of, and about my future, even fewer. I lack a developed sense of ambition or faith; when faced with the daunting unknown, I’m far more likely to cautiously inspect it and slowly sketch a map than confidently plunge ahead into uncharted territory. Until very recently, if you asked me, a college graduate, what I wanted to do with my life, I would have shrugged, listed a few half-baked ideas, and ultimately iterated that I just didn’t know.1Even now that I have some idea of a career I want to pursue, I’m still don’t have many powerful aspirations for other parts of my life. Like I said, ambition’s not my thing. But despite my general milquetoastiness about the future, there’s on thing that I’ve simply accepted as a matter of fact:
One day, I’ll write a book.
Now, if you’re looking for more information than that, I’m afraid I don’t have it. I’ve no clue what my book will be about; after all, I have a wide range of interests to choose from. I don’t even know if it’ll be fiction or non-fiction. It could be a one-off thing, or it could be the first in a series. It might be a collection of essays about bartending, or it might be a careful, scholarly tome about masculinity in American culture. I don’t have the faintest idea of what this book will be. I just know I’ll write one.
The funny thing about it is it’s not even a goal, at least not at this point in my life. “Goal” implies I’m consciously working toward it, that I’ve set my sights and am taking steps to get there. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Although possible subjects pop into my head now and again, I don’t say “I’ll write a book” because I’m climbing that mountain right now. I say “I’ll write a book” the same way I say “I’ll die someday”–it feels like an inevitable thing that will happen during my stay on Earth.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I dislike the notion. Writing a book is something I very much want to do. In fact, I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a kid, and started numerous drafts in elementary school, including a two-book series called I Was a Sixth Grade Onion and a sci-fi/fantasy story about two friends getting stuck in a video game.2No, not the most original premise, but I was, I dunno, 11. If I squint my inner eye, I can vaguely remember being nine years old and typing out a story on the family computer called Warped! It involved a time machine–or maybe a teleporter device. I printed it, bound it with staples, and proudly presented it to my second-grade teacher as reading for storytime.3I also remember that it contained numerous references to my good friend farting a lot, which in hindsight, was really a mean thing to point out in a story read to the class. I have long wanted to be published.
I think that’s why it feels like an inevitability, though, and not a goal. I’ve spent probably 15 years of my life with this dream of holding a book with my name on the cover–at this point, the desire has simmered down into contented confidence. I don’t doubt, of course, that it will actually require hard work when I finally pursue the dream seriously. My confidence doesn’t extend so far into the realm of hubris that I believe I can jot off a quick book in no time. When I actually start going for this dream, I recognize it will take serious commitment and effort to produce a book that is actually published, and my doe-eyed mutterings about “inevitability” will melt under the sweat, blood, and tears of making my fantasy a reality. Books, even inevitable ones, don’t write themselves.
But until that day, I will continue to assume that my book–my unspecified, nebulous, undecided, and wholly hypothetical book–is a matter of not “if”, but “when”.