Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

For Love of The Game

by Robison Wells

I changed my major four times in college. While many of my friends had very definite aspirations, planning on being doctors or lawyers or Indian chiefs, I was firmly procrastinating my decision. I started in architecture, moved to anthropology, moved to history, and finally landed in political science. While all of them fascinated me, I didn't have a deep passion for them; I didn't really want be an architect or an anthropologist or a historian or a fry cook. I liked reading about the subjects, but didn't want to work in the field.

In contrast, I have a friend (Ben) who recently took a $35,000 pay cut so he could go work for a video game company. Now, aside from the fact that if I took a $35,000 pay cut I'd be living in a cardboard box by the railroad tracks, I was simply astounded that Ben would make such a switch. It was hard for me to imagine someone having so much love for their work that they'd sacrifice more than half of their paycheck.

I have another friend, Steve, who is a typographer. Back in high school, we all thought that Steve was a little eccentric--he spent a lot of time on the computer and loved fonts--but all teenagers are eccentric. Who knew that this was his real love? Now Steve runs a website, and works on the staff of the world's largest font reference book. In critiquing fonts, he says things like this:

With its friendly quirks, Vista Sans is a lot like Tarzana — another Emigre font — but succeeds everywhere Tarzana fails. The more distinctive glyphs feel harmonious with the rest of the font, never jarring. Gentle swashes and a large x-height make for a friendly sans that would work just right in so many settings, it seems an excellent investment.

To the rest of us, out here in the regular world, Steve's analysis seems bizarre and almost laughable. But when you think about it, he's so immersed in typography that he views fonts--something that most people see as mundane--to be art. He's passionate about it. It's the kind of passion I only wish I had about my work.

I found out about Ben's occupation change from an author friend of mine. While we still laughed about Ben's disregard for a big ol' chunk of money, my author friend made the following statement: "You know, I'd take a 35k paycut if it meant I could write full time."

And you know what? So would I. I'd never realized it, but I have a passion for writing. Yes, I always make fun of people who say silly things like "I was born with a pencil in my hand" or "Writing is life!", but I've discovered that writing is the first job I've ever really loved. It's on my mind all the time, both my books and other people's books. I love to talk about the state of the market, and the development of the genre.

It's the first time where money is a means to an end, rather than the end itself. And it feels good. It's nice to care deeply about something, rather than just go through the daily motions.

Consequently, I am hearby announcing that I'm going back to school. Life's too short to spend it doing something you don't love. I want to feel the same kind of passion for my work, like Steve's passion for fonts or Ben's passion for programming.

Note to my future boss: just because I'm going to love my job doesn't mean you should pay me less.


At 10/10/2006 2:18 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

So, like, how about some details? I presume you'll be studying writing, but what, specifically, is the program? How long will it take? Full time or part time? What are your post-graduation plans? Good grief, man, don't leave us hanging like this.

At 10/10/2006 3:24 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Oh, sorry.

Actually, I'm not studying writing. In fact, it's a huge departure for me. I'm currently applying to BYU's MBA program, with a Marketing track.

Yes, I've said before (on this blog) that I hate marketing, but I suppose I ought to rephrase that. Pretty much what I meant is that I hate shilling my own books -- I hate sales, not marketing.

But I've determined that one of the things I love about writing is the marketing aspect: I love market analysis, and I love brand management. I like that marketing still allows for creativity.

But the most important reason: I like that it'll give me options. I've been looking for a new job for quite a while now, and I'm stuck. If I want to feed my family, my options are extremely limited. By getting more education, I make myself a more valuable commodity in the job market, and can (hopefully) find a role that I'll love.

At 10/10/2006 3:45 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Awesomely cool.

My husband went to grad school out east after a few years in the work force. It was a double masters' program; one of his degrees was in business and he's currently working in marketing. Grad school was a big change and big adventure for the family.

At 10/10/2006 5:23 PM, Blogger FHL said...

My wife has an MBA from BYU in Marketing Research. While she did work for a Survey company for a while, she mostly does Real Estate now, which doesn't require a degree. =) (Oh, and some editing, too.)

I'd like to say that having a degree in your desired field open doors, but my last two jobs haven't required that I have a degree, so... Still glad I went for it, though.

On a positive note, I'm sure you'll collect some story-writing experiences while going back to school!

At 10/11/2006 1:48 PM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Marketing is good. I should know, as I'm married to Evil Marketing Man. Good luck with your adventure.

At 10/11/2006 2:00 PM, Anonymous Melissa said...

Hey Rob, I'm going back for my MBA with a Marketing emphasis too! Marketing is fun stuff!

At 10/12/2006 12:38 AM, Anonymous Stephen Coles said...

Marketing Prospect Report for Robison Wells:
With his friendly quirks and gentle demeanor, Wells will succeed where more sullen professionals fail. Add to this his striking red top and you can see the man is a solid investment. I am giving him a strong buy recommendation.

Congrats, Rob. And thanks for the props.

At 10/16/2006 10:09 AM, Blogger G.Ellen said...

Okay..someone has stolen my signature line...I'm sure you weren't talking about me with the Writing is life! don't know me that well, at least I didn't think so... LOL
perhaps I should just be flattered you know I'm out there somewhere...
Good luck with your new major!

At 10/16/2006 11:40 AM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Uh... er... no offense intended!

At 3/30/2011 6:02 PM, Blogger cspokey said...

You changed majors 4 times? I have you beat - I'm on my sixth one. And I think (hope) that I've finally found my passion.

Yes, I realize this is an old post. But, you linked to it today. So I can comment on it.


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