Never Become a Writer


As children, we’re often interrogated by well-meaning adults with the question: What do you want to do when you grow up? For adults, this comes across as an innocuous question with an entertaining response from children, but from the perspective of the child, it can often feel like we’re on trial.

“Order in the court! Order I say… Now, the defendant will answer the question. What do you want to do when you grow up?”

How is any kid realistically supposed to respond to that? When I was young, I could scarcely choose between a plain Hershey’s chocolate bar and one with almonds (I still waffle between the two). Suddenly we’re cornered and asked to make a lifetime commitment to a career choice? Before I’ve even started Middle School? Yikes!

I’ve spent decades soul searching and after many self-help books, failed career attempts, a nervous breakdown (or two) I’ve finally answered that question. I want to be a writer. Whew! Better late than never, right?

So, filled with relief and joy, I announced to the world that I finally had the answer to the question that has plagued so many of us. In return, what I received was less than the triumphant exaltations I had expected. Rather, my choice was met with scorn and derision by friends and family.

“You want to do what? Are you crazy?”

“Well, no I don’t think so. I just love to write and I think I’m pretty good and it’s something that doesn’t bore me to tears or make me sick to my stomach when I think about doing it day after day so… No, I’m not crazy. I want to write.”

“Sigh… Why can’t you just get a REAL job?”

Sound familiar?

I spent decades of my life doing all kinds of things. I delivered pizzas, worked at banks, fashioned fake deer heads for a taxidermy supply shop, assembled automobiles in a General Motors plant, managed rent-to-own stores, took copious amounts of abuse at the front desk of a resort hotel, helped those with injuries restore their bodies to good health, and took more abuse on the telephone assisting folks with their employee benefits. None of the jobs paid very well and none of them lit the flames of passion within me. They were jobs and I was a drone bee and it was made clear that I was to do the bidding of my employer overlords without complaint or question and I would tolerate it. This was to be my life.

Except that I knew that it wasn’t to be my life. I knew that life had more to offer me and I had more to offer to the world. I just didn’t know what it was.

Except… that deep down, I did know. I’d loved writing since I was a teen and fantasized about becoming the next Stephen King. I even fantasized that I would one day meet him, show him my work and he’d praise me as the new literary genius of our time. In fact, I did meet him on a few occasions and he was delightful and friendly, but he never had an inkling that I was (and still am) an aspiring writer. (That’s another story, anyway)

I held back seriously entertaining the notion that I could write for a living because even my teenage brain grasped, at least on a rudimentary level, how challenging and competitive the market is. I had little faith in my abilities and assumed that all of the “real” writers of the world would scoff at my impertinence for believing I could join their esteemed ranks.

Now that I’ve elected my new dream/goal/profession, I’ve come to understand with growing clarity how right I was about the competition and the challenges. It’s tough. It’s tough, but it is not impossible.

So yes, I’ll read the books and take the classes and practice, practice, practice. I’ll make my lists and charts and submit my work and enter the contests and practice, practice, practice. I’ll network and market and practice, practice, practice. Because no matter what anyone else says, I’ve answered that question and I believe it with all my heart.

What do I want to do when I grown up?

I want to be a writer.

And now sit back and enjoy some pretty sappy, emotional stuff: Lyrics to The Impossible Dream from Man of LaMancha. :)

To dream … the impossible dream …
To fight … the unbeatable foe …
To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
To run … where the brave dare not go …
To right … the unrightable wrong …
To love … pure and chaste from afar …
To try … when your arms are too weary …
To reach … the unreachable star …

This is my quest, to follow that star …
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
To fight for the right, without question or pause …
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause …

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest …
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach … the unreachable star …

~V

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10 thoughts on “Never Become a Writer

  1. So. Much. Truth. In this post. If I had a dollar for every confused face or “But, writing’s just a hobby. What do you want to DO with your life?” every time I told somebody how much I loved to write, I would have enough money to buy a vacation home to write in, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well written and honest. I like that. It’s unfortunate a writer’s position in the world is scorned. Communication is key in a global society and so many people work in business, or even as positions as engineers and their writing sucks. Their bosses complain but as long as you don’t view language and the written word as important; people aren’t communicating well. I’m sorry people haven’t been supporting you and I understand it’s tough getting replies back from places telling you nothing or you have to fix such and such in a piece you submitted. Best of luck and keep writing whatever people say. If you know it’s what you want to do, do it. After all, it’s your life to live.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s gotten worse for writers these days since anyone can have their writing posted online or their book for sale on Amazon. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it undermines the value of strong communication skills. It’s tough to make a living as a writer these days–even for novelists with some degree of success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you captured my thoughts precisely. I see poor writing everywhere now and if feels to me that there is greater acceptance of that, which bothers me. The challenge to become a successful writer is daunting, but that’s as it should be. Only the best should rise to the top. The internet and self-publishing have allowed many to climb higher up that mountain than in the past, but there seems to be a level which most cannot cross and that’s my goal: To push past the dividing line and set myself apart.

      Like

  4. This post is so, so relatable; I studied communications and journalism in college, but had to walk away for financial reasons. After a few years, and a few unsuccessful stabs at finding my path, I circled back but haven’t had much luck monetizing that love and practice. Good luck with that unreachable star.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds like a good idea, a writer’s paradise where we all hone our craft and — financially — support each other. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement; the fun of starting a new post always keeps me coming back for more.

        Liked by 1 person

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