Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Wanna Be a Writer? You Must Be Crazy...

You wanna be a writer? You must be crazy. You will spend hours, days, years of time devoting your "creative spirit" to things that will a) never get read, b) never make you money or c) never be finished.

You will work day jobs that you loathe. Jobs that dull your senses and zap your brain cells. You will pay your bills and daydream about writing by the beach, in a coffee shop, somewhere pleasant and serene. In the meantime, in the real world you will listen to people berate you, disrespect you and have you do things simply because they are the boss and you are there to hold their hand/fight their battles/count down the days until you leave.

You must be crazy to think that writing can save you. That writing can spare your sanity, instill hope and determination. You must be crazy to let being a writer be a continuous goal, to call it your life and dare allow yourself to believe that your job is just your job.

Writing has tricked you into stretching to see the smallest successes of life. Small as in seeing your name in a byline. Becoming overjoyed by your first paid writing gig (which actually paid only enough for approximately three trips to Starbucks). Writing has been cruel - the time you lost all your work when the delete button came out of nowhere. The time you poured your heart into a story only to have someone tell you that they "didn't get it." And, let's not forget the time when you wrote over two hundred pages of the next great American novel only to read through it and be ashamed at the trash you penned. Snooki has written a book. Levi Johnston. Get it together.

And, yet you love it. You keep going back to it. Willingly! You send out writing sample after writing sample hoping to find a job that pays you and sustains you on truly gratifying level...although that level keeps going one step higher. Who strives for that? For every twenty writing samples you send out, you are excited for that ONE response that comes two months later, as an afterthought, politely and formally thanking you for your submission, but with no other glimmer of an invitation that a job or gig or future in writing at all may be offered to you. Ever. You will save this email and look at it from time to time happy that SOMEONE responded and that someone will respond again.

You will develop a tough skin for rejection. You will duck a compliment because good is never good enough, there is always better. But you will also begin to recognize your value. Nothing is for free. And even when you find those gigs that pay you, you will continue to write "just for fun" and for topics that you have interest in, passion for because you know no other way. As a writer, you know/have been forced to accept that money isn't everything.

You will squeeze every possible working hour out of the day to finish that one last freelance assignment because you don't want to miss an opportunity because someone else worked harder. People will judge your work. People will be blunt in their comments. People will nod with understanding although they don't fully know where your craziness for this writing life lies.

And, what to tell them? One day I started writing and never stopped? You love to hear people's stories but sometimes you like reading them more? I am inspired easily. I know what I want and I am stubborn - two of my greatest strengths, I believe. Despite the more profitable lots in life, the more practical roads to take, I can't think of any other path than this one.

You wanna be a writer? You have got to LOVE it. Fall asleep writing with paper stuck to your face love it. Down to your last dollar and winging it love it. Move to new cities simply to fill your life with stories love it. Letting one quote, one lyric, one perfectly structured sentence light your whole world love it.

You wanna be a writer? Courtney, you must be crazy...

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