I must confess that I am here under false pretenses. That's not because I haven't had publishing success; I have. It's just that writing and seeing my work published was never a dream for me. Writing is what I do; a writer is what I am. There was never a dream attached to this path I've taken. I wanted to be an English professor; I became a writer---a journalist---to earn money for grad school. But then I realized I was a writer. And that was that.
Perhaps this podium should be reserved for writers who pursued a dream and found success. I don't know. But I think there should be a podium somewhere for those of us who simply discovered we were writers. We had little choice. We knew we would make lousy professors or restaurant servers or pretty much anything else. We could write. That was it.
Maybe I'd sit down at that point and turn the microphone over to someone who had dreamed all her life about becoming a writer and was still unpublished. I'm sure I could learn a lot about hope from such a person. I hate to think what would have become of me if I hadn't realized early on that I probably couldn't make a living at anything but writing, so limited were my other skills and talents. I guess that's why it was never a dream. It was just my reality.