What I thought I wanted to be (when I was a kid)

… and what I’ve done with my life since

By Jeff Salter

With the understanding that my career choices in those youngest years were not based on much factual info about the employment fields involved, here are some of the jobs I thought I’d enjoy.

The earliest I recall was about kindergarten age… when I was certain I wanted to be a fireman. It was nothing to do with fighting fires, per se — I just wanted to ride around in a big truck while standing up… and I thought they had cool helmets.

At some point I was informed that garbage men also got to ride around in big trucks while standing up… but they didn’t have the cool helmets.

high noon

Later, and for several years, I earnestly believe I was destined to be in the Old West as either a sheriff or a gunfighter. And toward that endeavor, I spent years practicing with a stick horse and a cap gun. Never quite made it, however, to either profession… much less the time travel to the 1870s.

In around fourth grade, I remember announcing to my Grandmother Robinson that I intended to be an ATHLETE when I grew up. That’s because I was fast, strong, loved to climb and swing, etc. However I was also a scrawny kid and Grandmother dashed my dreams in this regard by telling me flatly, “you can never be an athlete because you don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.”

Having given up on those careers, I had pretty much decided by about fifth or sixth grade that I would be an author.

That goal / dream never left me, though it was tempered by a gradual awareness it was not particularly easy to make a living “doing” that.

Teaching, etc.

Having been blessed by many wonderful English teachers whom I greatly admired, I decided (as a high school senior) I wanted to teach English to high schoolers. That was all about literature and writing — right? And if I had any spare time, I could do my own writing.

But even teaching was not my ultimate goal at that point. I figured to teach English for a few years and then become a H.S. guidance counselor [and write in my spare time].

During my first two years of college, I realized – through my dislike for (and poor results in) “education” classes – that I might not ever become a teacher.


Well, my first professional jobs were actually in the field of photojournalism – on two civilian newspapers and three military base papers. For a goodly chunk of that time, I served as an editor or assistant editor.

In photojournalism, I was writing nearly all the time, of course. But it was writing on assignment, on a deadline… and often subject to the immediate red pencil of an editor. I also discovered I did not really enjoy “hard news” … much preferring to write features and profile pieces. And take photos.

After some five years of newspaper work, I was back in college, to finish up my B.A. on the G.I. Bill. By then I had dropped “education” and shifted to “English” (which really means LITERATURE). And I had a funny notion I might go to grad school in English and teach literature and writing at some small college somewhere (that wouldn’t require a Ph.D.).

There was a brief period, in the summer of 1976, when I had three prospects open at the same time: to pursue a masters in English, to return to the military (this time as a Naval Officer Candidate), or to try a masters in library science.


Thus began what became roughly 30 years in librarianship (if you count 1.5 years of grad school, during which I worked part time in the Middleton Library at LSU). There were 2.5 years directing a small public library system in Catahoula Parish, LA… and 26 years as assistant director of a large public library system in Shreveport [Caddo Parish] LA.

During my library years, I was writing, of course, but most of it was on things like manuals, policies, documentation, correspondence, evaluations, reports, grant applications, etc. None of that was any fun and, while it took talent and ability and concentration, I did not consider most of it “creative” writing.

On Saturdays, however, I’d write poetry, and articles and book reviews. Some three dozen of my poems won awards and many were published. And somewhere along the line, I co-authored (with my brother) two non-fiction books – released by a royalty publisher – on aspects of librarianship. Also co-authored a signed article in a specialty encyclopedia, and a signed chapter in a book published by ALA.

That was writing, and I had become an author. Heck, my writing had even won awards.

But there was at least one more chapter in my life.


Though I had dabbled with short stories at various points of my life to that point, I never imagined I had any serious fiction writing inside me. In fact, I used to brag that I could say in 20 lines of poetry what a short story writer could say in 20k words of prose.

When I took an early retirement from library work and relocated to KY, I assumed I’d stay in contact with library people, go to library conferences, write book reviews, and continue with my poetry.

Imagine my surprise when my creative energy instead morphed into long fiction!

Now, having just completed my 11th novel manuscript and my third novella, I can say with reasonable certainty that I’m a novelist!

So my dream from fifth grade – to be an author – has essentially come true. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Astraea Press and Dingbat Publishing, I have produced seven novels and two novellas so far… and have contracts on two more novels and one novella. There’s another novel basically complete which I hope to submit soon.

I’m glad some of those earlier career choices didn’t pan out. I may have been an okay small town sheriff, but I doubt I would’ve lasted long as a gunfighter.


What were your “career” dreams as a kid? Did you ever work in those fields?


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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15 Responses to What I thought I wanted to be (when I was a kid)

  1. I enjoyed reading through your journey and how you finally did end up getting one of your original dream jobs. 🙂


  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Things happen for a reason. And if you didn’t eat enough to keep a bird alive, you probably wouldn’t have been able to handle fire fighting either. I’m sure your fans are glad you kept writing. Nice journey!


    • jeff7salter says:

      thanks, Patty. I’ve often thought back to that comment of my grandmother’s. Wish she could have given me the same message (eat better) but with less destructive delivery. Not sure how it could have been done, but it was pretty shattering to be told my dream was dead.
      Of course, in my own kids, I saw the same thing — eating too little or leaning more on stuff like pizza and avoiding veggies.
      Don’t get me started about the grandkids’ eating…


  3. jbrayweber says:

    Nice journey, Jeff. And thank you again for your service to our country.

    Me? Career-wise? I wanted to be a jockey when I was a kid. Or anything that had to do with horses.
    By high school, II didn’t really have a direction I wanted to take until my senior year (when I HAD to make a choice). All I knew was I didn’t want to be stuck in an office, anywhere. I was too creative for that. Went to trade school and got a degree in Music and Video Business. But internship wasn’t my thing (since they wanted you to work 40 hour weeks for free. How do I pay the bills working for free?) and there wasn’t much money in freelancing as a rock band manager and videographer. Nor was there money in working at a club booking bands and handling PR. So, I had to work full time…in an office as an office lackey/manager. At the same time, I also worked in a head shop selling…um…paraphernalia of many types.
    I was a career student, too. I quit work to start a family and continue my education. It never occurred to me to become an author. Not until a professor suggested that I pursue it. And now here I am. 🙂


    • jeff7salter says:

      wow, what an interesting journey you’ve had, Jenn!
      I vaguely remembered the band manager role, but had not realized you worked in a head shop. LOL. Must’ve met some interesting customers.
      A Jockey, huh?
      I always loved horses as a kid. If I’d turned into a sheriff or gunfighter, I would’ve had a good horse, that’s for certain.
      Thanks for visiting.
      Sorry I didn’t get to MuseTracks yesterday. Things have been so haywire with the snow here.


      • jbrayweber says:

        Snow…ugh. I feel ya. Though I never see snow here in SE Texas, it’s been brutally cold for us. And where is the darn sun. anyway?
        Like many girls of that age, my world revolved around my horse and everything that had to do with horses. But at 5’4”, I grew to be too tall to be a jockey. LOL!
        Yeah..a head shop. Wasn’t the safest place to work at night, either. But I had an easy go of it. And I liked it well enough. I have a few good (IE. funny) stories, too.


      • jeff7salter says:

        We even got a bit more snow last night (to add to the 12 inches already on the ground from last week) — but it turned out to be minimal, thank goodness.
        One of my son’s high school & soccer friends became a professional jockey.


  4. jeff7salter says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention another lifestyle I envisioned for myself as a kid — around kindergarten age.
    I wanted to be like Tarzan — live in the jungle with a chimp and a pretty girl in a treehouse, and swing from tree to tree.


  5. I didn’t know that Tarzan was a career choice, Jeff!!! You seem like you accomplished most of the more grown-up things you had as aspirations….I mean, considering that “gunslinger” was never a very good career choice anyway, even before it went out of style.


  6. Deb Bailey says:

    I wanted to be a singer and an actress. I started singing solos in church at 10 years old and in chorus in high school. Our church youth group put on musicals. My freshman year I had 2 lines to sing. Soph. year, I was the siren Nimue in Camelot. 3rd year I was second female lead, Meg Brocky in Brigadoon and they took Look to the Rainbow from Finian’s Rainbow so I’d have a better song to sing. Senior year I had the lead in Kiss Me Kate, I got to do Shakespeare as well as sing. My high school put on musicals and I played Daisy Mae In Li ‘l Abner. I was invited to join the Schenectady (NY) Light Opera but no drivers’ license, no car, too many buses in the dark so I couldn’t join. I was only 17. I joined a couple bands but they didn’t go far. The competition in live music was very excellent, we weren’t.
    I got married ,no music, no acting, at least on stage. When our son came along I sang every day and did every voice I could copy as I read books and acted out the stories.It continued when our 2nd son came along too. Joined choir in our new church, again was asked to sing solos, weddings, funerals, fashion shows too.Wrote 5 Christmas plays, and directed them, started a teen drama group, our 11 year old daughter was adopted at this time. No stories ever read to her,, no lullabies sung her to sleep until she joined our family. Now the karaoke shows began , painful but fun, alas our daughter cannot sing but does with much enthusiam.
    New church , new solos, but right now all is on hold as I my health has interfered with my desires. Yet, I still get to sing and I still get to act with my fur babies who sing and play along with their crazy mama.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: As a Child, My Dream Job | Four Foxes, One Hound

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