Ahaha the fateful moment came for me, friends. That moment when someone looked me dead in the eyes and said “writing isn’t a career.” Well. WELL. Let me tell you, good sir, what I think of that statement. Nothing is a career unless you train, you study, and you make money off of it. A degree in technology isn’t a career unless you get a life long job in your field with room for advancement. Writing is a career free of many of the boundaries you find necessary. We determine our own boundaries or how much we succeed in our field by the time, the effort, the late nights of panicked scratching, the early mornings of balling it all up and throwing it away, the scrawled out drawings of characters, the notebooks filled with ideas, the chasing down of agents and publishers until you find the only one who will accept your manuscript, the constant insults and criticisms of our work based on someone’s popular or unpopular opinions, the editing five or six times until you know your manuscript so well it becomes impossible for it to be entertaining to you anymore, the self criticism and judgement over what and how we write. After all of that, when we’re lucky to have one person enjoy it and publish it, you look at us in the face and say that isn’t a success. We don’t save the world, or lives, or jobs. We don’t spur the economy or comfort the mentally ill. We just write a bunch of useless words on a blank page, right? WRONG. So, very, very wrong on so many levels.
We pour our souls through a pen, exposing ourselves willingly to your brash words and the words of others like you. We save lives. The lives of those who had no other reason to live on before reading one simple line in a book, or novel, or script, or story and viewed it as their inspiration for going through another day. We spur things. We spur the imagination of a child living in a cruel reality. We give people an escape from the reality of their lives, or we present them a cold dish of reality that they didn’t want to see. Writers have purpose behind every single word that goes onto the page. Every subplot contributes something. Every character has something to give the reader. Writers, true writers, don’t write because we know it’s going to make us money. We are all well aware that it is very likely we’ll never make a penny. We write because we have to. We write because, if we don’t, we’ll end up going mad from the words constantly going through our minds every day and night. We write so that a small child can read a book and suddenly understand more about themselves than they had before. We write so that an adult can read a book and ball their eyes out that they had never seen such an obvious truth in our society, etc. You’re right. We contribute nothing to society other than a bunch of words on a page. Words that paint such a vivid picture in a person’s mind that they can close their eyes and still see it. Do you think that’s easy?
People do not always have some ulterior motive behind what they do. Not everyone in the world has a job because they want the money or the respect that comes along with it. Writing is a career because it is a lifelong dedication of time, health, mind, and heart with no real reward awaiting us other than seeing someone smile at reading the written words on the page. We relish in the emotions of those that read. That is our payment. Writers write because they can’t be heard. There is so much noise in the world, that the visual truth is much more effective in gaining a desired effect. Books aren’t dead. Writing is very much alive in this world. It is the reader’s that are dead. Reality has pressed so many into an unimaginative mold of money, job, and marriage. I write because I have passion and a vehement refusal to sit in a mold. If you don’t acknowledge my dedication, then you are the one who has failed me. Writing is my career. Writing is my life. Writing is my very soul. If you think you can make me change with the promise of money and greatness, then you are sorely mistaken my good friend. I’d rather be poor, homeless, hungry, than give up writing. I’d buy a pen and notebook before I’d buy food. Keep your motives and I’ll keep mine.
And that is what I think of your statement.
Ironically, my quote comes from my book 🙂 Did I sound angry? Because I feel angry.