There are a lot of shitty things about being a writer. I don’t know how to say that more eloquently. There is literally no better word. It’s shit. It’s shitty how high the odds are stacked against us. It’s shitty that your first rejection letter is a rite of passage. (How many times have we heard people tweet, “Got my first pass! Guess I’m a real writer now!”) It’s shitty that the publishing industry continues to decline, and the only news headlines we see are about how much harder it will be for the young and hopeful to break in. It’s shitty how unforgiving our world is: you write one bad thing, and people don’t want to hear from you ever again.
I try to stay upbeat on this blog: offer tips that helped me, give unsolicited advice, make myself look like I know what I’m talking about. But quite honestly, the only thing I can say with pure unadulterated confidence is this: writers are fighters. We’re fighters because we keep going despite all the shitty things that come with the territory. And there are so many days I want to hang up my gloves.
I work full-time. And I’m grateful to have a job, especially during the past year. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say all I think about is the day I’ll get to call myself a full-time author. I don’t know any writer who doesn’t look at the glamourous lifestyles of household names who own multiple homes with multiple balconies, perfect for staring off into the view and plotting their novels, and think, “Gosh, that’s nice.” We all want that. But instead of writing my book at my second home in Italy, I type away during my lunch break, make time for my writing whenever and wherever I can. Doing it full-time is a luxury I dream of. And there are plenty of people out there who are more than happy to tell me why I should let that dream go.
I’ve noticed this recently: the writing community has taken on the responsibility of dream crushing. Perhaps it’s an attempt to be noble, to give those with stars in their eyes fair warning of what’s to come, but there’s nothing gallant about squashing optimism. And it makes us all look like a bunch of grumpy old farts. When did the fellow writer become the mean old man who shoos kids off his lawn with a rolled up newspaper? Now, before I get a string of hateful comments and an inbox full of “Not I!”, hear me when I say this: I don’t’ mean everyone. There’s plenty of support out there. But what I’ve noticed is that for every encouraging writer keeping the faith and spreading positivity, there are twice as many pessimists disguised as “realists” more than happy to remind the dreamers that the numbers aren’t in their favor. “Give up now before you become jaded and bitter like me.” I hate that. That’s almost shittier than all the shit I mentioned before.
So, I’m going to say the thing you’re not supposed to say. The thing that somedays, I really wish someone would tell me. I think we all need to hear it from time to time. Ready? Your book is good. This will happen for you. If you want it, and you’re willing to work for it, there’s no reason you won’t see your name printed on a hardback someday. Just keep fighting.
I’ll say something else I shouldn’t say. Those Negative Nancys who sit on Twitter all day long telling others that the world of writing is a bleak, miserable place? They aren’t the ones I see gaining any traction in their writing journeys. Good things come to good people. I believe that to my core. And if you tell me that’s naïve, well then I say, go reread this blog.
I had a rough writing day today. I’m struggling with a revision I’ve been plucking away at for a year. I just finished a book that was a lead title from a major publishing house that read like a kindergartener wrote it, which left me feeling like, “Well, if this is what’s making it big time, why the hell am I even trying?” And then I stared at my work-in-progress for a half hour before navigating to YouTube to watch motivational Tony Robbins speeches about not quitting. Tears came today. I yelled at my mother on the phone. I didn’t make dinner like I said I would. I felt like giving up.
And then, I sat down to write this. And it’s the only thing that has made me feel good about myself all day. As the word count grows, I feel that fight beginning to resurface. Fellow writers, if you get to a place of complete and total despair, if you opened your email to an inbox full of rejection, if your children make it impossible for you to steal fifteen minutes alone to write your novel, if someone on the internet says not to bother, please, for the love of God, tune it all out. You’re a writer. That means you’re a fighter. Keep fighting. For your sake and mine. Am I being dramatic? Probably. But I have a feeling if I needed to hear this today, someone else does too.