Deciding to Be a Writer


It’s been exactly seven months since I defended my Master’s thesis. DX


Sorry. It just always surprises me when I realize how adult I am… And I naturally react in a childish way. Heh. I still feel like a child locked in her bedroom, writing stories to curb the isolation and brooding. It’s been a beautiful seven months, and I think it’s given me some great direction as to where I’m going in life. Yay. I got it all figured out! (For now.)

This blog post serves as a reflection of where I’m at now, as a writer. I wasn’t sure I knew what I wanted to do with my life post-graduation. Last March, after my defense, grad school had been lazily bonked off the table by my inner tabby cat, and several soul-wrenching family dilemmas left me wanting to feel more present and available for those I love. That meant I needed a new route through life that didn’t involve more school or a cubicle.

I’m a firm believer in fate. Not the kind of fate where you’re doomed to do something without any say. Rather, the kind of destiny that comes via assistance from the universe, should you desire it. And somehow, sometime, when I was young, I asked for that help. And the universe has delivered.

“Mari’s Path toward Becoming a Writer”

(Alternatively called “Mari’s Path away from a Desk Job”)

  • When I turned 12ish, I lost my freedom. Before that time, I’d been allowed to run somewhat wild, keeping my own hours, leaving the house when I wished, and being with who I wanted. The sudden manifestation of a strict curfew and severe punishments for being late suddenly scared me from venturing outside. I wasn’t allowed to hang out with many friends, and I spent lots of time in my room. Luckily, my father had given me an old computer, so I started to write to pass the time.
  • Sometime in there, I told my mother I wanted to become a writer. By writer, I meant a fantasy novelist, but she had other plans. By this time in my life, she had already dictated lots of my academic life in the hopes that I would become a successful business woman (e.g. she didn’t let me take Calligraphy in middle school because it wasn’t productive and instead made me take Spanish as a marketable skill). She responded to my desire with “Yes, grant writing is a very good job.” Despite that advice, she bought me every fantasy book I wanted from Borders (RIP), as if a hidden part of her was silently encouraging me, so I kept my head down and kept writing.
  • When I was in 10th grade, I had a lovely English teacher who asked the class to read a book and do any type of creative project inspired by it. I picked Bram Stoker’s Dracula and composed 75-ish short prose pieces and poems to go along with the themes I found inside the novel. I also painted a picture for it. That teacher loved my project and encouraged my talent by inviting a Creative Writing professor from UVSC (now, it’s UVU) to come into the class and meet with me personally to review and critique my work. Needless to say, that experience helped me feel like I was somewhat good at what I’d only been doing for fun.
  • By the time I graduated high school, I had written about 100 bad novels while stuck in my tower, at the cost of some major friendships and most of my social skills. However, I emerged with the idea that this would never be a job. It was only a hobby. Instead, I decided that I wanted to go into academia to become a field biologist. I wanted to catch bugs and be in the woods, perhaps to regain some of that free wildness I’d longed for from before that curfew. I even got a 5 on the AP Bio exam and enrolled at BYU as a biology major. However, one day, I came home from school to an article clipped out of the local newspaper. Stephanie Meyer was just starting to blow up all over the state at that time, and the article talked about how she wrote Twilight while also being a stay-at-home mother to her children. Despite how I felt about glittery vampires, considering influential Dracula had been in my developing craft, my mom had clipped the article for me because it had given her a change of heart… She wrote me a beautiful note which encouraged me to write instead of become a biologist. She said I’d be free to do what I wanted if I worked from home as a writer… And that week, I changed my major to English.
  • Unfortunately, the first two English classes I took at BYU were horrid. I wasn’t academically mature enough to understand theory (I failed two papers on James Joyce’s The Dead. Ugh!), and an entry-level writing course that adjourned class many times due to very poor attendance didn’t quite spark my interest (who knew attendance quizzes were a thing in college?). Luckily, my family moved to Hawaii after that year, and I transferred to BYU-Hawaii. At BYU-H, I absolutely flourished in the English department. I hadn’t planned on being there for more than a year, but I had two amazing professors (Drs. Myrna and Mike Marler) who inspired my socks off. I stayed in Hawaii and dedicated myself to a craft that I had learned to love as a real possible future.
  • After graduating with a BA in English, I got my first fiction gigs in the gaming industry by sheer coincidence. Most of it had to do with marrying someone who loved L5R and whose brother obsessively followed AEG’s blogs. I responded to open auditions to the L5R story team, and I got picked with two other very talented people to join some absolute giants in the storytelling craft. I’ve already written about much of that journey on my Tumblr blog, so I won’t add that story here, but I do want to say that that job, more than anything, was my lucky break, and it’s opened nearly all my doors since then.

Let’s fast forward to today. (I plan on writing about the more recent stuff in detail anyway in the future.) Seeing this timeline really helps me appreciate where I am at now: I’ve been writing for games for about six-ish years now, I have dozens of published works in many genres, I am working closely with some amazing local authors to bring a D&D Twitch stream to life, and there are just more and more doors opening on the horizon. No more towers. This is real.

Last week, as I was evaluating all my job opportunities (I got an adjunct teaching job to help fund my career as a writer! Huzzah!), I had a moment of doubt. I asked the universe if writing was really the path I should take or if I should do something else. Well, since then, Capella University called me nearly six dozen times wanting my money for more schooling (the internet bots are watching us, yo), and this morning I opened an email about a dream-come-true opportunity.

Thanks, Universe. Again. I know which one to pick now.

If you’re still trying to decide, maybe try writing a timeline of how you’ve got to where you’re at. Maybe the universe has been gently nudging you the right way all along.

Now, let’s see where this trail goes.


Mari is a goof who takes herself too seriously sometimes. You can tell by the fact that she loves Pikachu AND wrote her master's thesis on transatlantic postsecular oceanic modernism.

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