This is a strange time for me to be singing the praises of my writing career. I’ve been at the computer all day, every day, for many days in a row, and with too little income to show for it. I’m up to my knees in rejection slips and up to my neck in bills. I just revised my freelance writing resume, and once again I’m struck by the fact that I haven’t published as many pieces in as many places as I’d like. I could say, “Writing career? What writing career? Why don’t I just pack it in?”
But I’ll never pack it in. Despite all of my moaning and complaining, I know in my bones that a writing career is the path that’s meant for me. Writing, you see, is the love of my life, and as with any love affair, ups and downs are inevitable. I’ll never stop pursuing my writing career, no matter how much I have to struggle financially, no matter how many rejections come my way.
I’ve been planning a writing career since the tender age of 8. At 36, I still refuse to put those plans aside. A career shouldn’t just be a job that pays the bills. If it were, I’d be wise to quit my writing career and take up…oh, just about anything else, since just about anything else would pay more and cause less frustration.
If we’re lucky, a career is a vocation, a calling. My writing career is exactly that. Writing has called me away again and again from sensible, dependable kinds of work. I’ve come to conclude that a writing career is the only career for me. Believe me, I’ve tried to break away, to push writing into the background. I’ve even thought, “Maybe I could have 2 careers, a writing career and – oh, I don’t know, something I could feel equally passionate about.” I’ve learned that I can have a job, which I tolerate for the money, and a writing career, which I’m driven to pursue even when I’m not being paid.
Money, or lack thereof, is the great challenge of my writing career. Still, I can’t help but feel fortunate that I found both my vocation and the will to follow it. Sadly, many people never figure out what their true vocation is. Others do figure it out, but because of family obligations, societal pressures, or other obstacles, they never pursue it. I might have decided to write purely for pleasure, scribbling away in notebooks that no one would ever read. In that scenario, I wouldn’t have a writing career, but I could still have the sheer joy of putting words together, the unique satisfaction of creating something out of nothing.
Instead, I decided to make a writing career. I feel the need to share my writing with others, to see my work out there in the world, to be recognized for my best efforts. In this scenario, I get all the goodies writing has to offer. I get the joys of wordplay, the satisfactions of creativity. I also get to enjoy the strange tingling sensation that comes with knowing that people who live hundreds or thousands of miles away are reading and thinking about my words.
Admittedly, part of this “sensation” is pure ego-stroking – without ego, I honestly wouldn’t have the drive that’s required for a writing career. But there’s also something about being read that’s almost mystical. When someone writes to comment on my work, whether they absolutely love it or absolutely hate it or just think it’s nice, I get a different sort of shiver. It’s as if I’ve thrown a cosmic tennis ball with all my might into the universe, and amazingly, someone I’ll never meet has caught it and thrown it back. If I wrote only for myself – that is, if I didn’t pour my energies into a writing career – I’d never know how much I was missing.
If having a writing career can feel this good, does money still matter? Well, yeah, it does. But I can’t imagine my life without a writing career at the center of it. Love isn’t always blind. Sometimes, it makes you see things more clearly.