Where do editors come from?
Joel Moskowitz, owner of Tools for Working Wood, recently began a new blog series, asking “movers and shakers” in the woodworking world to recall what they wanted to be when they grew up, and how that translated into their actual careers. I do move occasionally (from my desk to get more coffee) and shake (after I drink the coffee), so I took him up on his offer. Here’s what I wrote:
When I was really young, maybe 6 or 7, I loved the show “Flipper.” So I decided I would be a marine biologist. I wasn’t quite sure what that was, but I knew they got to work with dolphins and live near the beach.
But when I grew up a bit, (about the age of the kid in the tire swing) I always found myself building things: model planes, model rockets, clubhouses. We were a poor family. Neither my mom or dad had gone to college or owned a home, nor had their parents, so I didn’t think college was an option for me. So I went to a trade school for high school, choosing the machinist track like my grandfather had. By the way, we also had no TV in the house, so I read voraciously, sometimes as many as 6 books a week. I guess I was always a left-brain/right-brain guy.
Two things happened to get me to college and set my on my current path: I learned about financial aid, and I learned after working in a couple of real machine shops that I wanted more from my career. So I took the SAT on a whim, got a good score, and was accepted into UConn’s engineering school. I had no study skills to speak of, and I wasn’t happy doing math problems all night long, so I flamed out, trading engineering for English, an unusual switch, the dean warned me. But I couldn’t believe you could earn credits just by reading great books and writing about them. I went on to become an English teacher. When I found I couldn’t hack classroom management (THAT’s a tough job), I put my word skills to work in another way, taking a low-level editing job at a newspaper.
I was almost content, but I realized that I missed building things. The solution was my first shop and a serious woodworking hobby. At that point I was headed directly for Fine Woodworking (though I didn’t know it yet). A few newspaper and magazine jobs later, I got there.
It was an odd, winding path, but in retrospect, it points like a laser to the most fulfilling job of my life. Here I get to use all of my language skills, plus my understanding of what happens inside machines and at a tool’s cutting edge. Best of all, I get to build things: magazines, furniture. Lucky guy.
Anyone out there have a similar experience? Did your childhood fun lead to a career or serious hobby?