March 8, 2018

How Accomplishing My Dream Did Not Change My Life

Guest Contributor: Nina Darnton

From the time I learned how to read and write, I dreamed of being a professional creative writer. I imagined that getting my own novel published, something that came from my imagination and writing skill, would be the ultimate realization of my dreams and would change my life.
The problem is, I also dreamed of being an actress, a psychologist, a director, a mother and a wife. For a long time, though, I didn’t follow up on my dream of writing. I dabbled in the three next careers, going to the school of Performing Arts in New York City, being active in the theater while at college and getting a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from Columbia. I also taught acting at Yeshiva University, The Lighthouse for the Blind and Phoenix House and a treatment center for recovering drug addicts, where I also directed plays that toured around New York City.
In dealing with populations that were not professional actors, but had specific problems, I satisfied some of my interest in psychology but it wasn’t until I fell in love, got married and became a mother that my gaze turned to another area of psychology: child development.
I went back to school and got a Masters of Science in psychology and living in Nigeria with my husband, a correspondent for the New York Times, I wrote my thesis on child development while working with professors who were doing research in that country.
I enjoyed all those professions, but I still yearned to be a writer, not on a thesis or a study, but from my imagination, as a novelist. First, I started reporting stories from Nigeria and finally I became a journalist.
In addition to Africa, I wrote stories from Poland and Spain and ultimately became a fashion writer for Newsweek. I enjoyed it, but it still didn’t change my life. Finally, ten years ago, I wrote my first novel and it was published. I have since written two more, the most recent is called “Risking It All” and it came out in September. It’s been wonderful to finally be a creative writer and live my dream.
The great wake-up realization I had is that actually writing didn’t change my life. I didn’t need to change my life – it was pretty good as it was.  Accomplishing a goal, however noble or desired doesn’t change your life. All the education I had, the love I experienced, the insight I gained, the life I lived before and after, that’s what changed my life.
And I’m grateful for all of it.

Nina Darnton is a long time writer and the published author of Risking it All: A Novel, An African Affair, and The Perfect Mother: A Novel. She also worked for Newsweek for a number of years and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times.

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