The story goes on to talk about the hat you wear in public and the hat you were in private. The one you wear in public is what you do, your job, your role in society, your role in family, etc. The hat you wear in private is the one that guides your heart.
I personally wore many public hats: wife, teacher, student, consultant, et al. Each hat held a special place in my development, but by themselves, they weren't enough. Don't get me wrong. My wife hat is the most satisfying one of all. I've worn it for over 35 years. The teacher hat didn't last as long as I'd hoped, not that I wasn't qualified, but I sought college-level teaching positions right about the time President Nixon (remember him? Tricky Dick?) cut federal aid to education and jobs vaporized.
The consultant hat began after the teacher hat blew away. I held a series of ultimately well-paid positions in several companies over 30 years. I enjoyed my work, but I never defined myself as a consultant for Blap Consultancy. Never to myself or to people I met. It was a job that became a career but was never a passion.
After one egregious day when the moon was transiting Planet Poop, when my colleagues were cranky, and when the client was crankier yet, I curled up in my hotel room immediately after a dinner-for-one and dragged out my laptop. Before I knew it, I'd written a short story about the day, complete with outrageous behavior and a protagonist that had to be me...
I was hooked. I'd found my hat, and a very private hat it was indeed. I wrote early in the morning before we had to be onsite at the client's offices, after hours, on airplanes, at home. I wrote every spare minute I could find. I wrote an office romance that still sits in cyberdust, although I think I'll resurrect it. I feel more capable of trimming it and underwriting it (yup, too much purple prose and too many mechanics of sex) now.
I wrote a saga about the women who form the core relationships with family and friends. That's way too long (350K words), but I designed it as a trilogy. It may yet see the light of day in a vastly trimmed-down version.
While I was still working, I began the query process and racked up 109 rejection letters from agents. Guess they knew my books needed serious help. I found a sympathetic agent who helped shape my first publishable novel. When she asked if I was thinking about this as a series, I paused a few beats too long.
"Of course, you are," she said. "Of course, I am," I replied. She told me to write brief synopses for two additional books--"a paragraph or two is enough"--and them back to her as soon as possible.
And thereupon, the course of my passion was clear. I was to be an author. I was to write and publish. I was announce to the world that I was a serious author. I was to wear that author hat proudly and loudly.
What hat do you wear?
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery. She has a new short story, "Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape," in 50 Shades of Cabernet. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and on NPR.