What were you doing ten years ago?

It’s exactly ten years ago that I took the first serious step towards my dream of becoming a writer. I’d written before that, of course – a few short stories, a chapter or two of a novel. But I didn’t really believe that I could be a writer, and so everything was half-done, squeezed in between the other events of my life, a hobby more than a way of life.

Ten years ago, I decided to get serious. I quit the high-paid, high-status corporate banking job that had always made me feel like a fraud, and enrolled at Columbia University’s journalism school. For the first time, I was admitting to the existence of a dream, and dedicating myself to learning the craft of writing.

Recently I was looking back over the stories I wrote in those days, marvelling that ten years had gone by, and I thought it would be good to post some of them on here. It’ll be an occasional series, which I’ll continue as each ten-year anniversary rolls around. First you’ll be seeing articles from my time as a journalism student, then some pieces from the Wall Street Journal, and later some fiction. I won’t post everything, because there’s a lot of it – I plan to be selective and not overwhelm you! But I thought that a slimmed-down version of my development as a writer might be interesting.

As I post the stories I’ll add links here.

Posts in the Ten Years Ago series

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you were doing ten years ago. Leave a comment, or tell me on Twitter!

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There are 20 comments

  1. Ten years ago I was only eleven but had already started writing short stories. I remember sitting in front of a very large and sturdy computer, typing away on the keyboard. I did it because I liked it and sometimes I read them aloud to friends. I was already a regular at the well-stocked school library. I’m also pretty sure I was still playing with my dollhouse then.
    Only three years later when I was fifteen I wrote my first novel, a badly written fantasy piece in 60 pages. I can’t even look at the thing today but ever since I haven’t stopped taking writing seriously and I regret that I don’t have those first few stories that I wrote on my big brothers computer when I was eleven.

    1. Hey Lea, that’s great, a first novel at fourteen! Even if it was no good, it’s still a great thing to have done. I was writing stories at that age, but wasn’t even thinking about writing a novel – that was always something I would do “one day”. Took me a long time to realise that one day could be today!

  2. Ack, ten years ago I was in the middle of chaos, overworked as a lecturer, writing my introductory book to 20th century French literature, bringing up my 8-year-old son and suffering dreadfully from chronic fatigue syndrome which I was not acknowledging out loud. It would take me another three years, though, before I finally jacked in my job to try to make a recovery. It seems a long time ago now!

    1. Sorry, not such a good time for you. It’s amazing how we can stay stuck in a bad situation for a long time, isn’t it? Took me four years to leave the corporate banking job, even though I knew from day one that it wasn’t for me. Good for you for jacking it in finally! Some people are still stuck.

  3. Oh, how fun to read some of your earlier work! Ten years ago I had just met my husband, and we were married 6 months later. I was graduating from college, and I didn’t write for 5 years after that. I was pretty drained from school!

    1. Ah that’s nice! Congratulations on your upcoming 10-year wedding anniversary! Do you have anything planned yet?

      1. I think we might go stay in a hotel and go watch a movie and have dinner. Or something … we’re so broke! But I do hope when we reach 15 or 20 years, we can go on a cruise. Or go to Europe. Or something that requires a large amount of money, since we haven’t done anything like that yet. 🙂

  4. I was publishing my first novel and starting my first academic position. I’m tenured and writing my fifth novel and umpteen stories.

    1. Wow, you’ve had a very fruitful ten years! That’s fantastic. What sort of academic position is it? Do you teach literature or creative writing, or something different?

  5. Ten years ago I was flying a desk in a small software house as their support co-ordinator, technical author, training guru and sometime analyst, wondering why my eyes kept going funny and giving me double vision.

    Since then I’ve been diagnosed with MS, quit the day job, got married and turned my writing hobby into a full-time career as an author.

    Now if you’d asked me ten years ago where I thought I would be in ten years’ time, I wouldn’t have predicted this!

    1. Hi Elspeth,
      Thanks for the comment. That’s quite a journey! I’m very glad I asked the question – so many fascinating responses. Congratulations on making it full-time as an author, and of course on getting married. You’re right, it’s so hard to predict where we’ll end up. I don’t think I’d have predicted where I am now either!

  6. Ten years ago I was 26 and co-running a stable yard in South Africa while working on my first novel. Later that year I sold my first short story to a DAW anthology, so it was the beginning of my writing career.

    1. Hi Paul
      That’s great, thanks for participating! It’s really interesting to hear all the things that people were up to. Sounds as if ten years ago was an important time for you too. Sorry, what’s DAW?

    1. Thanks Geosi! I like to look back. Seems quite a few people were younger than I was ten years ago 😉

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