In Find Your Passion, For Dream Chasers

Originally posted on February 25, 2011

What’s makes something an interest versus a calling?

I’ve thought about this question a lot over the years, particularly because my “calling” tends to be ever-changing. For a while, I thought my calling was painting. Then, I thought it was photography. Then I was sure it was graphic design. While I’ve taken classes and enjoyed dabbling in each, my devotion inevitably fades when I stumble upon a new one.

The latest? Sewing.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been looking at it all wrong. You can have an affinity for for painting or photography or graphic design – or sewing – without it being your calling. It’s true that sometimes your interests may be a part of your calling, but they can be completely independent too. While this may sound like I’m stating the obvious, I think for many people it can get a little tricky to distinguish between the two. Why? Because the first place we’re told to look when trying to figure out our calling is at our set of interests. You love baking…does that mean you should open a bakery?

It depends. And that’s where the line gets a little fuzzy.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know my dream is to be a fiction writer. But what makes writing my calling rather than simply another one of my interests?

Here’s how I rationalize it:

  • I’ve been doing it since I was a child. As soon as I learned how to write, I started writing books. I was about five or six years old when I wrote my first book, which was a story about a little girl with 18 brothers and sisters who all had to share one bathroom. I illustrated it and everything. I’ll never forget my Nana saying, “One day you’re going to be an author.”
  • I’m always thinking about it. Writing is the first thing I think about when I wake up and it’s the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. My mind is constantly working through storylines, character traits and random bits of dialogue.
  • I love to read. They say that writers are readers. Growing up, I spent my summer vacations reading a book a day. And I’m the only person I know who’s ever been grounded from reading.
  • It’s invaluable to me. The first check I ever received for writing an article meant more to me than any paycheck, even though it was worth about 100 times less. On top of that, most of my writing isn’t done for money, but for the love of it.
  • I strive to be better. I started “seriously” writing (with the goal of publication) five years ago and I am constantly reading books, magazines and blog posts on how to improve my work and connect with readers.
  • It absorbs me. Twelve hours can feel like two when I’m working on a manuscript. I forget to eat, I sit until my bladder is ready to burst, and Dave usually has to pry my hands from the keyboard at the end of the day.
  • It makes me feel high. After writing, I often feel a burst of endorphins…a writer’s high, if you will.

And last but not least, it turns my head. I’ll never forget a couple years ago when Dave and I spent a long weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. We were walking through the shopping district, passing high-end stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. When we got to the bookstore, Dave burst out laughing. When I asked him what was so funny, he pointed out that we had just passed a slew of really nice stores, but the only one that made me stop and look in the window was the bookstore.

Writing is the fabric of my life. My passion for it can’t be quantified. My interest in it only continues to grow.

Writing is definitely my calling.

How do I know?

I just do.

Have you found your calling? If so, how do you know?

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Showing 4 comments
  • Brianna

    I feel the exact same way about writing. I used to get grounded from reading, too. When I was a teenager, I volunteered at the library in the summer. My family used to go on vacation every summer, too. I would stash a stack of 20 or so books in the office of the children’s librarian just before going away so that nobody would check them out while I was gone. I also used to sneak into the bathroom when I was a kid and read after I was supposed to be asleep.

  • Vaughn

    Oh Erika, you had me at ‘since I was a child.’ The rest are great reasons, but you really got me grinning with the bookstore window! Love this!

  • Deb

    Great post–how funny that you were grounded from reading!

  • Keetha

    So well done! I can relate to this post so much. It’s so gratifying seeing all the thoughts I’ve had along these lines put down in words.

    I’m definitely guilty of confusing an affinity for a hobby with a calling. I’ve done that so many times and still do, on occasion. I’ve been writing for ten years and here lately I’ve been wondering about passion, what my passion is, and why it matters.

    Having a passion matters, and matters a lot. I’m just not sure what mine is! When I answer the same questions as in your blog post, my answer is usually books and/or reading, which is not the same thing as writing them. I love so many creative endeavors.

    Again, great post. You’ve given me a lot of great food for thought.

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