One of the most difficult parts about job interviews thus far has been explaining what I did this summer. “What did you do this summer?” is a typical interview question. If you’re an underclassman who has never visited Career Planning, I advise you to “do something this summer” so you can talk about it later. I’ve been asked about summer employment many times, not only by HR representatives, but by family, friends and enemies.

“Did you have an internship this summer?” Usually, they are holding a beverage and we are at some sort of function—mixer, birthday, barbeque.

“Sort of,” I say. “No.”

“Huh?” they ask. “What did you do this summer?”

I twist my hair around a finger and remember this is a nervous habit. Then, I explain how I spent nine weeks on a Canadian island with a small group of biologists. I quickly mention the lack of showers, Wi-Fi and toilets. I tell them I was writing a collection of short stories.

“About what?” they ask. “About birds?”

“No,” I say. “About other things.”

Usually, they nod and I wonder if I should have left the toilet part out. People don’t like to talk about toilets—outhouses especially. Rarely do I elaborate on my writing—my failures, my triumphs. Instead, I change the subject or chew or pretend to be late to something else.

I have trouble telling people I like to write. I’ve always equated the public expression of an interest with the embarrassment of potentially sucking at that interest. So for a while, when anyone asked what I wanted to do—tomorrow, next week, in ten years—I would say I didn’t know. After nine weeks of writing stories, though, I couldn’t keep up the feigned apathy. I wanted to write and I had written. I’d spent six days a week working nine to five—sort of—without any other obligation. Occasionally, I counted tree swallows or baked bread. Once, I helped lift whale bones across the beach. But I would always return, dutifully, to my laptop—my lifeline, my unrelenting tyrant.

I didn’t know if I was going to produce anything decent, or even half-decent. I have a hard-drive full of clumsy stories dating back to elementary school, hundreds and hundreds of stories—including correctly formatted screenplays (feature length) that are blatantly all about me. Still, I’d never spent an extended period of time focusing on one thing. On the island, writer’s block was a recurring fear—along with herring gulls and spiders. I changed opinions on sentences and paragraphs daily. Word by word, I picked apart my stories, splitting them into crumbs. I would write and rewrite and erase and regret, and I would send it all to my boyfriend, in hopes of constructive criticism and/or lavish praise.

The only thing I could bank on was time. I couldn’t screw up time, mostly because I didn’t have a Time-Turner nor access to television. At Bowdoin, I was (am) a calculated time-waster, but on the island, I could be prudent and productive. Improvement meant practice, over and over and over. I was more than lucky to have time—so much time—to write. I didn’t want to waste my first big chance.

Of course, I’ve said things like this my whole life, inspiring myself via popular Goodreads quotes—To live is the rarest thing in the world! —but never internalizing nor following through. On the island, I wrote without distraction, story after story—at least for a while, until my boyfriend mailed me a flash drive of Season 3 of “The Office” and “Zootopia” in Spanish (which I watched, twice, even though I don’t speak Spanish). All good things must come to an end, I suppose.

I won’t pretend I returned transformed. I threw up eight times on a lobster boat. I showered with a plastic bucket next to a muskrat’s home. Naturally, I have a greater appreciation for 21st century amenities and clean socks. But I’m grateful I allowed myself to pursue something I love. Fiction writing rarely seems like a practical endeavor, but practical endeavors are rarely fulfilling. I almost spent my summer as an email-marketing intern for an insurance company. Maybe, I would have networked. Probably, I would have plucked my eyes out. I’m not surprised at the role fiction writing has continued to play in my life, but I’m pleased I’ve allowed myself to embrace it.

Soon, we have vacation; later, graduation (for some, summer break). I have four months left at Bowdoin—which seems at once too few and too many. Four months to cram in everything I haven’t done and everything I should have done and everything I want to do. The big island voice is back, screaming, “Don’t waste it!” There is so much to be anxious about. Sometimes, it’s nice to have something all your own. The small thing you love can be a very big thing—take time for it, make space for yourself. It’s easy to push off quixotic ambitions, but I urge you to welcome them.