In my 'other' life, I'm a High School English teacher. In addition to this I've recently qualified and taken on the role of Careers' Counsellor as well.
And so I've just spent the past few months counselling hundreds of teenagers regarding their future careers and course selections for next year.
Interesting, to say the least.
I love working with students about their hopes, dreams and ambitions. And I'm constantly amazed at some of the futures these students aspire to. Some, of course, are obvious. Some are complete surprises. And then there are those that I suspect are probably unattainable.
How do you gently suggest to a student that reaching their goal is impossible without crushing their spirit and aspirations? Simple. You don't.
You encourage them to reach that goal, while pointing out the practicalities and difficulties, and advise them to have back-up plans. As you do with every student. You never know, they might make it.
I've been heartened by the number of students who want to go into creative areas: photography, sculpture, painting film-making and, happily, writing. And of course these are some of the career paths where success can be quite limited. A back-up plan is vital.
A couple of these kids have been aware that I write and asked me about my experiences. It's been kind of humbling that a few have even read one of my stories.
Who knows? Among this group of teenagers with dreams and hopes and wishes and aspirations, there might be another Stephen King. I look forward to that.