Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

abacuSometimes 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.

About Lida Bushloper

writer and poet
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6 Responses to Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

  1. Well, that’s interesting. I never wanted anything to do with numbers except to count money. Or the lack of way back. I went to secretary school and had jobs at several places, including in the quality assurance departent for a national chain of nursing homes and as a college secretary in the School of Nursing. I was even a Kelly Girl for a while. Through all that, I wanted to write but didn’t get serious until about 1990. And here we both are. Pounding the keys, letting our imaginantions fly. I’m right where I want to be. And from what you wrote, I guess you are, too! Go, us!


    • I think a variety of experiences are always good for us writers. But as you hint, there are many paths up the mountain, but the view from the top is still the same. Glad we’re in this together. Lida


  2. jo nelsen says:

    I hear ya, Lida! Fyi, still in Canada and selling my condo, though not ideal times -:( So, I’ll see you sometime when the coast is clear. Trust you are all well.
    Stay that way! I liked American by Day by Derek Miller. Super writing, good mystery, one especially rich character. (Sheriff) but long on philosophy in the middle, but as you know, the middle is never easy. Xoxoxo Any recommendations – pass ’em along.


    • Yes, Derek Miller has several widely praised novels. He’s on my (long) list of to-reads. I miss our coffee/chats. But, as you say, someday soon. Thanks for reading and commenting. Lida


  3. Hello. I think that words and numbers have a lot in common. Both are parts of languages. Both have infinite possibilities! Take care.

    Neil Scheinin


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