It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with it, but I am a writer. Yes, I recently published a book and I’ve written stories, poems and articles for most of my life. The problem is that I saw writing as a hobby or something I did when I was a child. I didn’t accept as part of my identity or as my calling. When I was in school I did everything I could do not major in English. I tried Biology, Political Science, Zoology – anything but English. I did everything I could do avoid the inevitable. Why did I struggle against what was truly calling me? There are a few reasons. One, I’d been told to become a lawyer or doctor, certainly not a writer. I’d also been told that writers didn’t make any money.
I remember attending a business meeting a few years ago and I mentioned that I was a freelance writer. The response I received? “Isn’t it a shame that writers don’t make any money.” Looking back now it’s amusing because the person who said that was a realtor. I wonder now (in the post housing bubble economy) if anyone has ever told her that it’s a shame that real estate agents don’t make any money.
It doesn’t stop there, unfortunately. Even after publishing my book I received a lot of advice on how to price my book and promote it – from people who have never written a book. Amazing how so many people suddenly become experts on writing without having ever written themselves. But perhaps that comes with the territory. Writing is a very intimate form of expression, and it takes courage to take your innermost thoughts and feelings and bring them into the world. Perhaps that’s what makes some people dismissive and eager to let you know how little value your work has monetarily. Perhaps they’ve also experienced the same doubt and suppressed their words for fear of how they would be received. Or they believed that your work only has value if it can be sold for a high price.
There is nothing wrong with making money from my writing, in fact I would love to be able to support myself entirely with my writing. But that is not why I do it. I write because I have to. When I don’t write I am restless and feel disconnected from my source. I feel lost. So finally I have accepted that this is who I am. I am a writer. I have stories inside of me that are aching to be released. When I free them, I free myself.