Practically from the time I could crawl, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I don’t know, but there was something unbelievably enticing about creating stories and putting them to paper. This is a desire that continued on through all my formative years (including the teenage, closeted ones), and well into adulthood. Here, I’m in my thirties, and I still can’t shake this stupid habit of mine.
Why do I find wanting to be a writer stupid? Well, really, any creative career is mostly luck with a bit of talent thrown in. Even if you’re an exceptional artist or writer, if you don’t have an audience, such things just don’t matter. They really don’t. This is one of the many reasons I’m encouraging my nieces and nephews to enter into math and science–which they’re already predisposed towards, mind you, so it isn’t as if I’m pushing them towards subjects they dislike. Creative outlets do not actually create simple careers, and they’re almost impossible to get jumpstarted.
I’ve written three full-length novels and countless short stories, but I’ve never managed to get a thing published. Am I that bad of a writer? Quite possibly. Is the system stacked against new writers? Absolutely. Most publishers won’t look at “unsolicited” manuscripts (as in, submitted by a literary agent), and most literary agents won’t accept unpublished authors as clients. It’s a bugger to get started. These are hurdles I’ve been leaping through for more than a decade now, and that’s intermixed with working multiple part-time jobs at a time to make ends meet, taking care of my family, and going to school off and on. Finding the motivation to write grows more and more difficult as the days roll on by.
In November, my master’s program ran a writing competition for some scholarship money. Within two days, I’d written a short story about a mermaid and submitted it. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t select it as a finalist. Undeterred, I submitted the story to a magazine. Again, I was rejected. I should have just let it go. Yet, this morning, I paid to submit it to the Writer’s Digest annual short story contest. I didn’t give up. If they don’t take it either, though, I’ll be posting it on this website and resigning myself to never getting this story published. Such is life.
Looking back at my many trials and tribulations over this career, I really should have given up years ago. I’ve spent so any hours on top of money I didn’t have for contests and postage fees and classes. I’ve never earned a dime for anything I’ve written. Eventually, I should get a clue, but apparently not anytime soon. I still love to come up with characters and figure out their stories. It’s a sickness.
Whenever I doubt myself about writing, I just look at a cross stitched picture that I made years ago. A friend of mine suggested I put together a motivational line, and I decided to make it extra fancy before putting it over my desk. It reads like this: “Remember this above all else! You write not for the entertainment of others nor the possible prestige. In truth, you do not write for the sake of your own self-worth. Such paltry reasons could not sustain a lifetime career. No, you write to give your characters a voice. No one else could do them the justice that you can. So…GET ON WITH IT!”
Words to live by. In my case, they are.