Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mark Twain's Lifelong Dream...To Be or Not to Be a Writer?

On the banks of the #Mississippi, a young boy skipped stones across the #river while he waited for the passing of a steam ship. He longed for the day when he could fulfill his destiny. Mark Twain's greatest dream was not to become a writer. More than anything else in the world, he wanted to become a riverboat captain.

#Mark #Twain arrived in #Hannibal, #Missouri at the age of four-years-old. Can you imagine how many times he told his parents, when I grow up, I want to be a steamboat pilot? With a first rate view from the upper floor of his home, Twain could dream all night long of the boats on the big river. He could walk out his front door and dream all day long of the sun kissed waters. He passed by the river on his way to school, on his way to play, on his way to everything.

The dreams of our childhood linger long in our memories, reminding us of the one thing we wanted to be when we grew up. Those innocent desires shaped us, captured our imaginations, and guided us along the way to adulthood. For Twain, the fulfillment of his lifelong dream came when he reached twenty-two years of age. His four-year riverboat experience enabled him to later write novels filled with youthful characters chasing their big dreams.

Samuel Clemens sported quite the imagination when he thought up a few pen names for himself. I giggle every time I read the names, Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass and W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab. If you are a literary fan or just a fan of Clemens, you might already know how he came up with his most famous pen name. While working aboard the steamships, he heard the words "mark twain" often. The words literally meant "measure" and "two" or about twelve feet deep. One of the greatest writers of the nineteenth century used a pen name associated with the love of his life--the Mississippi River.

"When I grow up, I want to be a...fireman, ballerina, CEO of Microsoft?" I think back to my childhood. I told everyone I wanted to be an archaeologist. Don't ask me why. I didn't even know what an archaeologist was, but the impressive word sounded important. Deep down inside I always wanted to be a writer. I did share my dream with my grandmother. "That's nice, dear," she responded, patted my head and handed me another pencil and a piece of paper.

For more information on the life of Samuel Clemens aka: Mark Twain visit: www.marktwainmuseum.org


  1. Enjoyed reading this. I just read a Facebook post from Lisa Minney, the editor of Two-Lane Livin' (the magazine I write a kids column for). She's on a bus tour and they just visited the Mark Twain Museum. I also wanted to be an archeologist! That must be why I love finding Indian arrow head in our garden.

  2. If you ever come for a visit, I will personally give you a tour! You might even spot Mark Twain, Tom and Becky. (We actually have people dress up in period costumes and roam the streets.)OK, too funny that we both wanted to be archaeologists! History is our thing;-)


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