As a writer, an artist, surely you must know what discouragement is. What differentiates us from other discouraged artists however, is that people don’t just remind us how unlikely it is to go anywhere in life or to make a living. We’re also reminded that the very thing we love is dying! “People simply don’t read anymore! Attention spans are dwindling as we speak! Montages are cut to strings of .5 second shots! No! One! Wants! To! Read!”
They’re not saying you can’t do it because you’re not good enough—that would be too easy. All you’d have to do to prove them wrong is to work harder! They’re saying that even if you’re amazing at what you do, you’re still going to end up spending your days in a cubical—because no one cares about what you do.
Now I may just be unlucky (which I am reminded of every day) but even the writers I have met, who are fairly established, don’t have anything nice to say. They smile dryly at those of us who are still fresh with passion and batter our already wretched hearts with their harsh reality.
Yes. I know the reality of what I want. I just wanted to hear some encouragement from someone other than my friends who are practically obligated to say, “Lily you’re a great writer! I love reading your stuff! Keep at it!”
I go to school every day surrounded by people taking courses they excel at but have no real passion for. People who know their degrees will get them the car they want, the lifestyle they want, the Justin Bieber front row tickets they want.
People who appear genuinely sorry when they ask the silly girl in their class what an English degree is going to do for her. “English? So you’re gonna be a teacher?” Which I respond promptly with, “You could do anything with an English degree—go to LAW SCHOOL, get a TEACHING DEGREE, maybe JOURNALISM even!” Emphasize on the LAW SCHOOL and they’ll nod knowingly and let you scurry off to your next class.
(I do plan on doing a double major in Law and English. Why not? I surely enjoy jumping to my own defense, even when I’m wrong. “Sorry professor but here is an online receipt proving I did in fact hand in my essay!” “Yes Lily you did, but you handed it in TO THE WRONG CLASS FOLDER.” Switching from an English Specialist to a Law & English double major was also thanks to the pressure of society, wowza!)
Writing is a lonely job. We all know this. We also know that having someone there to tell us not to throw everything into the wastebasket is crucial. Someone to tell us our words do compel. That we’re not wasting our time. Someone, other than ourselves, who will believe in us. (Refer to Stephen King: On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft.)
If you are a writer, I want you to know that I appreciate what you produce, I don’t want you to ever stop. Don’t ever stop being “a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant re-arrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss” (thanks for the bio, Joan Didion).
Being on WordPress has really helped me. There are not nearly enough writing communities. I am writing this to remind you that you’re not alone.
It’s hard. It’s so, so hard. I am writing this because I know.