Chasing Dreams is a feature about pursuing a career path that you’re passionate about and going after your dream job.
To those who missed the introduction post for this new blog feature called Chasing Dreams, click here to check it out. For the first ever guest post for Chasing Dreams, I asked my good friend Francisco Stork to write about his own experience. I’ve gotten to know Francisco through email exchanges and during one of our conversations, we talked about how he writes on the side and has a day job as a lawyer. I was immediately curious about this set-up and I asked him what’s it like for him. For his guest post, I sent him this question:
How did you discover that writing was your passion and how did you actively pursue that career path?
Without further ado, please welcome Francisco Stork!
_____________________________________________________________________I’ve been thinking about your question for a while now. I think the word “passion” threw me off. Is writing my passion? These days we tend to lift the word “passion” from the context of romantic love where it often means a kind of absorbing, exploding obsession, and apply it to other aspects of life. I’ve heard the word used with respect to golf, the stock market and rock climbing. But writing doesn’t quite feel like this kind of passion to me. There is another meaning to the word “passion” that is not much in use these days: suffering. Writing often resembles that kind of passion.
More than a passion, I like to think of my writing as a vocation – something that I am called to do. Whether you believe in a “caller” who is doing the calling or not, a vocation is, as one author said, the place where the gladness in your heart meets the world’s great need. Vocation happens when you discover your talent, something you are good at, and you find a way to make the world a little better place through the use of the talent.
I’m not exactly sure when I got the idea that I wanted to be a writer. Maybe it was when I was eight years old after I finished reading my first book and said I was going to write one too and my father gave me a typewriter. But there’s a difference between wanting to be a writer and wanting to write. I didn’t want to write until I was fifteen years old and I started keeping a daily journal. It was around that time that I first suffered an episode of depression and writing was the one thing that helped. I put everything in these journals: poems, thoughts, stories, rants of love and despair. I didn’t think too much about what or how I was writing. I simply wrote and the writing became a habit, the training ground that allowed me to write and publish a novel thirty or so years later.
I went to college and then to graduate school hoping to be a writer. But graduate school wanted scholars who wrote about an obscure area of literature that no one knew anything about, and that was not the kind of writing I wanted to do. So I went to law school thinking that I could practice law and write on the side. But the legal jobs I worked in were so demanding and time-consuming there was no time to write or even read books that were not legal books.
I was about forty-five years old when I discovered that ignoring the call to be who you are meant to be will eventually lead to very devastating and painful personal results. If you don’t exercise a talent given to you, the energy behind that talent will explode in addictions or depression or in physical illness or in countless other painful ways. So, I took it upon myself to turn my daily habit of journal writing into the writing of a novel. I woke up at 4:00 A.M. and wrote for two hours before going to my legal job. After a year or so I had a draft that I sent out and after five years later after many rejections and many revisions later I found someone willing to publish it.
I am sixty now and my sixth novel will be published next year. I’ve written all my novels while working as a lawyer for a state agency that builds homes for low-income persons. I was fortunate enough to find a legal job that is less demanding and less stressful than those early jobs I took right out of law school. But it is still hard to find enough mental and emotional energy to do both the legal work and the creative work. I find a way to do it by realizing that it is a slow process that requires patience and persistence and lots of kindness to myself. I write because I’m somewhat good at it and the world needs us to do the things we’re good at.
But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that writing does not share any of the enthusiasm and fun that is associated with passion. There’s a joy that I find in writing that is deep and meaningful, a joy that, strange as this may sound, doesn’t always feel good, but is always worth having. If you ever find yourself doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is, you’ll know the joy I’m talking about.
“The place where the gladness in your heart meets the world’s great need” is such a nice lovely way of describing vocation. Thank you, Francisco, for that beautiful post. It is truly inspiring how you managed to find your vocation. I would love to discover mine as well because it would be good to find fulfillment in doing something that I feel like the world needs me to do.