Sometimes I wish I were an accountant. I’m actually good with numbers. So, I could have been, back when I was supposedly “choosing” a career. But nooooo, I had to do something with more romance, more cachet. Like being a writer. But man, I sometimes envy accountants, bookkeepers, actuaries and the like. After all, the numbers either add up, or they don’t. If they don’t, there are various tricks and techniques to help you figure out the glitch. Then, AHA, problem solved. Numbers are not subjective. There’s no judgement from them or from an unseen “editor.” You never have a bunch of fellow accountants sitting around a table, making suggestions on how they would add up the numbers if it was their balance sheet. There’s never a need to stare at figures and wonder, is there a more accurate, more descriptive number, the way I sometimes agonize over word choice. It’s either the correct number or not. And numbers, too, can tell a story. The dwindling totals in a bank account. The set number of days between exposure and symptoms. The timelines that don’t add up, revealing gaps in an alibi. And bankers can be detectives. See Emma Lathen‘s John Putman Thatcher novels.
But I didn’t. I coulda, and maybe I shoulda. But bottom line, there is no woulda. I would never have given up my writing for another career. Not that any of us really has to choose. Lots of writers have, or had other careers. Cops, lawyers, university faculty, news reporters, social workers, longshoremen. Mine was community college librarian, a path that suited me, in which I made a contribution, and which served me well. But still. The clarity, the simplicity, the transparency of numbers will never lose their appeal for me. But then, neither will words.