Cast yourself back to the Scalzi of twenty years ago.
Now, in your life, are you anywhere near where you thought you’d be?
Yeah, pretty much I am. Twenty years ago I was a first-year student in college, and I had a weekly column in the college newspaper and I had bluffed my way into upper-level creative writing course (in which the professor on the first day declared that there was to be no science fiction written for his class, the bastard!), and I pretty much figured I was going to be a writer in the future, because that’s what I was then, and what I knew I was good at (relatively speaking) and wanted to continue doing.
There are specifics that I wouldn’t have expected. For example, living in Ohio, which still occasionally comes as a shock to this southern California boy. Also, I didn’t anticipate the Internet in any way. When I was in college I assumed I would go on and be a columnist at a newspaper or a magazine. Well, I did — at 24, I was the youngest nationally syndicated newspaper columnist in America (and quality-wise, alas, it showed) — but I didn’t then expect that I would end up essentially writing a daily column online, on my personal site, which gets as many weekday visitors as the average American newspaper has in weekday circulation. I mean, come on, that’s a little wacky. It still surprises me. But it doesn’t surprise me I’m writing in this form.
And as for writing novels, not surprised there, either. I hoped I would be writing books, and let’s just say I’m not entirely surprised I ended up writing science fiction at this point, either. I suppose I could have made my debut in fiction by writing a sensitively-written novel about a young writer who goes back to his hometown and meets up with all the old friends he’s left behind (and the one girl who was always meant for him, and still is), filled with exquisitely observed moments leading to a small Moment of Realization™ near the end, but inasmuch as I just threw up a little in my mouth even writing that description, I’m glad I went the route of aliens and exploding space ships. Just more fun, you know?
So, yeah: I became what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s nice. We should all be so lucky. But then I suppose if we were all so lucky, there’d be millions of astronauts and quarterbacks, and a substantial number of people who were both. I don’t think our economy could support that.
(there’s still time to ask questions for Reader Request Week 2008: Post your question here.)