Someone: What are you going to do with your life now? (Because being 23 and having a degree marks the beginning of the end and means I must know absolutely everything.)
Me: I want to write.
Someone: Write. *pause* What do you want to write? Like books or other stuff
Someone: Oh. *pause* What kind?
Me: Young Adult paranormal.
Someone: Ah. *pause* (note the change from "oh" to "ah" and the remaining pause) Like Twilight, vampires and stuff?
Me: Well, there's a lot more to it than just Twilight and vampires, but yes...like that.
(This is where he/she usually looks at me, head tilted slightly to the right or a shifting of the feet and one of the following statements occur...And yes, I have heard all of them.)
Someone: Is there money in that?
Are books still going to be around?
Why would you want to do that? There's more opportunity in other kinds of writing.
(my favorite) That's ambitious. Do you think you are good enough to actually get published?
(the all encompassing response) You have to be really good to be successful and make any money. I wouldn't want to do that unless I had something to fall back on. It's hard to get published.
(Insert massive book against head here.) No, kidding. Usually, I don't respond because sometimes saying nothing is better than being horribly mean.
I share that not because I'm angry at anyone or because I'm upset by it. I share it because it happens all the time--and I have found that it is by people who think they know but haven't been in my life in five years. The people that really know me--my close friends, my community, my family--are typically more encouraging. Why? Because they know me. They've seen me have conversations with the voices in my head. They've heard me talk about books or writing or movies with passion. They've read something I've written or sat with me at 2 am while I cried about what I would do with my life. They see the change that has happened since I opened myself up to this and stopped running like a scared little girl. They are really the only ones that matter.
But it is hard when people point out all of the doubts that you already have. It is a tough industry. You do have to be good. It isn't a glamorous, here's buckets of money gig unless you are someone like Stephanie Meyer---and well, most of us probably won't be. If you think you're different than all these statements, I would encourage you to really, really think about why you are writing. Really. If not for me or for yourself, then for your readers and fellow writers. I've said before that writing is a community and if I was in something for the wrong reasons (like I was once in high school when I wanted to be the leader of something so badly but for the title and not for the right reasons), I would want someone to call me out on it. I would want someone to have it that wanted it for the right reasons.
Because if I was in this for money I would've quit a long time before I started because there's isn't money when you aren't published. There also isn't prestige or an easy ride to a publishing house. There are tears and words and revisions and characters yelling at you and encouragement and not much sleep and rejections. It's so hard that it's important to know why you want to do what you are doing. Life is too short to be passionless or moving purposelessly.
Why do I write?
Because I love it. There is nothing like creating something from nothing, nothing like mixing emotions with words and taking these snapshots of a life and putting them out there. It's something kinda beautiful.
Because not writing would kill me.
Because even if I'm never more than a blogger who reads books and tweets and writes for myself, I'll still love it. I'll still always write.
Because it's a part me. And we have a history. It's like that line in Wuthering Heights: "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." I'm talking about writing but the sentiment is the same.
Because there is this hope that I cling to that everything in life has a purpose--we just have to discover it and then pursue it fervently.
Because words are powerful. So powerful. And I have a story to tell and I want it to be the best story I can tell. The best.
Because I love stories. They have changed me, shaped me, challenged and taught me. I have laughed and cried and seen others do the same.
And because I have one goal that is two words: one person. For me, the blogging, the interviews, the lack of sleep, the discouragement and the encouragement, the failing, the discovery, the possible success has that one goal. If one person reads something and is helped or encouraged or challenged--if something changes them or relates to them or makes them see something in a new light--then I have achieved my life's goal to write something valuable for one person. Sometimes that one person may be myself--and I'm okay with that.
So please, for the sake of good stories and lives and powerful words, ask yourself this question and answer it honestly: why write?