This is a question many fledgling writers face, and even perhaps some published ones. The average person simply cannot understand why we would pursue a career in an uncertain, ever-changing field. And it is difficult, which is one aspect not many people fully appreciate. Writing is hard. It would be so much easier to pursue a different career path to ensure security, both financial and for one’s sanity.
But that is not why we write. Any true writer understands this. You don’t do it for the money. You do it because you have a story that needs to be told. You do it for the feeling of sitting straight up in bed at one in the morning and grabbing your notebook to jot down a new aspect of your protagonist’s personality that just leaped into your mind. You do it for the moments when you’re in a crowded area and you see or hear something, just one thing, that brings the phantom tendril of a fledgling plot into your mind. When those moments come, they’re like balloons. Most people are content to watch them float away. They’re pretty, but they’ll be gone soon. They were just a temporary source of amusement, then life goes on.
Writers grab the balloon with both hands and float away to new landscapes.
Perhaps that’s why the field is so seldom appreciated. A large percentage of writers put their hearts and souls into every book they write, but through no fault of their own, are never published or rarely published, and their books will never be found on the New York Times Bestseller List. But still we press on. Because that’s not why we fell in love with writing. We wanted to be able to close our eyes and see the firework-lit skies of Brill at night, the far reaches of deep space, the helix-like revolution of seven planets around a single sun.
These are all mine. They come from my imagination. And every time I begin to doubt myself and think that this career isn’t for me, something beautiful slaps me in the face. WRITE ME. Like a blank sheet of paper and a pen is sitting on the table at the bottom of the rabbit hole, and I, a modern-day Alice, can be transported to strange and wonderful worlds just by writing on it.
I’m especially reminded of this fact when I look back on all I have accomplished so far. I have at least partially planned out four novels! At a mere twenty years of age, I consider that as pretty damn fine, indeed. I know I can be published before twenty-five. I just have to want it badly enough. If you’re reading this and you often get discouraged like me, don’t worry. It will come back to you. Keep writing, is the only advice I can think to give you. I’ve stopped writing for great lengths of time and regretted it each time. Don’t listen to the critics, listen to yourself. Allow yourself to write an absolute travesty of a first draft. It’s supposed to be awful, that’s why it’s only a first draft. (That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to learn, and I’m still trying)
And above all, dream. Many writers will tell you, to be a good writer, all you have to do is listen, and watch. Keep your eyes open. There is merit to that, but I propose that it is equally important to close them, and imagine.