On Becoming a Writer in the “Real World”

Sooooo….what happens when you tell people (all you young, hopeful, and often times naive persons out there), that when you ‘grow up’ (which in my case means graduate college), you’re going to be a writer. You’re not just going to be a writer, though, you’re going to make a living off of being writer. Heck, why not just throw in all your poker chips and say you’re going to be the next J.K. Rowling?

Yeah. I thought so.

In fact, it’s so hilarious that even you may laugh at yourself. Most of us ‘wise up’ and become something else other than writers–at least for a living. And yet at the same time something within us is angry that it’s such a win or lose situation. We’re angry that the hopeful world full of dreams that we had as a child and maybe even held through college isn’t real. We’re angry that something we care so much about–sometimes so much we know better than to say how much in fear of mockery–is considered useless to the real world. Stories hold magic, adventure, wonder, hope, love, escape, and for even some of us a rescue. They hold our expressions, emotions, screaming, crying, yelling, laughing, talking, fighting, living–in the end, stories are the rawest evidence of our humanity. And yet becoming a writer for a living seems so bleak, and its aggravating. Especially when there’s just enough temptation in it because some ARE able to make a living off of writing (and let’s just not talk about the multi-millionaires who are writers, shall we?).

Today especially, achieving the dream of a career in writing appears hopeless
Today especially, achieving the dream of a career in writing appears hopeless

It’s frustrating. But, believe it or not, it is possible. It is possible to have a career as a writer–a real live breathing one, not the sad excuses that can be often found on the outskirts of amazon and fanfiction.net. In fact it’s very possible. There are many writers in the world who have fulfilled their dream. Brandon Sanderson is one of them. He lives in Utah and I listen to his Writing Excuses all the time due to I work cleaning boilers. But you’re probably not going to like what I’m going to say.

First off, it takes a buttload of work. Anything truly worth it takes hard work. It is sort of like my motto. You have to write everyday, you have to go out and teach yourself how to write better, you have to learn how to take critique and when to ignore it, you have to be brave, you have to make sacrifices, and most of all: you gotta know yourself. But, if I know the kind of people who are probably reading this, you’re probably willing to do that work.

Second off, get rid of your delusions  You are most likely not going to end up like J.K. Rowling. Popularity like herself isn’t something you can depend on because it has a lot to do with luck, methinks. What you should be focused on is writing the story that’s jumbling around in that brain of yours, getting it onto paper, and telling the world that story. When you are debuting author, that’s really all you need to think about. I emailed a few best selling authors myself asking them what was it that made people love stories and what could I do to incorporate it into my stories. I was essentially told that which I have just written above: that as a author starting out I need to just worry about writing what was in my heart, as cheesy as it sounds.

Third off, did I already mention it takes work? Any art takes dedication. Ballet dancers have to hone their bodies practically from the age they can walk in order to perfect their art; painters have to study for YEARS and spend countless hours studying and practicing and sacrificing until they can truly touch the spirit of Michelangelo; musicians, no matter the instrument  have to sacrifice more time than you will ever know in order to form that instrument into their second voice (trust me, I know, my whole family is freaking music professors and musicians–I’m the weird one going into English). Now I ask: why would storytelling and writing be any different? This is an art! And if any kind of artists wishes to be renowned and truly skilled at their art, a sacrifice needs to be made. Hard work is required.

I know this may sound rather discouraging to you who don’t have confidence in your own abilities and talents. I know it’s discouraging to always be looking up at other people who are so much better at you–and they even seem to be good without even trying. I know often you are all too aware of all the work you need to do. I know life is hard, bills are no respecters of men, and often times with economy and the way the world is it makes you wonder why you even try to follow your dreams. But, my friends, 🙂 remember our roots. Remember our childhood. Remember the very stories we wish to create and how there is always conflict in stories, how our characters have to fight to win, and how that Frodo has to make it across Middle Earth and Mordor in order to destroy the ring so he can go home. We love heroes journeys because they reflect our own journey. This is our journey. This is our adventure. This is our life—and anything truly worth it, whether it be saving the world, getting our one true love, or becoming a best selling author—

Is a fight worth winning.

Don’t fear hard work. Glory in it. It is what makes us strong and makes us great, like the heroes in our stories. YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOUR DREAM! You can achieve anything as long as your willing to work for it! This is true! Good crap, we live in America, people! Start acting like it.

So, as Edna Mode from the movie ‘The Incredible” said, “Go, fight, WIN! And call me when you get back darling, I enjoy our visits.”

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