icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

 Born to Write
 A Blog by Author Amy Hill Hearth

How I Found my Place in the World

I want to share a story with college students struggling to answer the questions, What career should I choose? What do I want to do with my life?


I was one of those students who floundered. I changed my major from Psychology to Sociology, then History, and finally English Literature.


Although I had always loved to write, it didn't occur to me that I could be a professional writer. I didn't see the common thread until someone pointed it out to me. Perhaps this was because I didn't know anyone who made a living as a writer. My father had a degree in engineering and my mother, in math and physics.


And then one day during the worst of my confusion, my father asked me, sort of nonchalantly, "Have you ever noticed that the classes where you got an A – when you were happy – always included a writing project?"


Hmmm. Truer words were never spoken. The subject didn't matter at all. History, English literature, Sociology – Dad was right. If a course had been structured around a writing project, I was in Heaven, and I excelled.


"You love to write," Dad said simply.


And then I asked what now seems like the stupidest question ever: "Doesn't everyone?"


"Why, no," Dad replied. "In fact, most people don't like to write at all. See, writing comes so naturally to you that you assume everyone can do it well. Maybe you should be a writer."


The conversation with Dad was life changing. I had always expressed myself through writing. I kept diaries and wrote long letters starting in grade school. I wrote a draft of a novel during the summer between fifth and sixth grade. Why had I not seen this as a path for my future? Why did it take someone to point it out to me?


I have no idea. I was young and overwhelmed, I guess.


I knew in my heart that Dad was right. Immediately, I applied and then transferred to a smaller college with an intensive writing program. I took courses in magazine writing, creative writing, and screenwriting. I joined the college newspaper staff. I got an internship at a magazine in my senior year, then my first job at a daily newspaper, and on and on, leading me eventually to a reporting contract at The New York Times and then my first book contract.


After a single conversation with my dad, I was able to find my place in the world, and I've never looked back. Sometimes, what it takes is the right advice from the right person.