If you’re a writer, you’ve probably been told this at least once, or some variant of it. Perhaps it hasn’t been said directly to your face. Maybe it was the look in their eye when you mention a new short story or novel attempt. Maybe they snort or laugh, thinking you’re joking when you say you’re a writer.
Well, that italicized voice in your head growls, thank you for your love and support.
Oh, we know they don’t say it to be mean or rude or to crush our dreams (if they did, I suggest new friends). They had benevolent intentions in saying it . Probably because they don’t want us to end up stubbornly writing poetry in a box under a bridge across from a MacDonald’s with a big NOW HIRING sign on their billboard.
Because really, JOBS FOR WRITING ARE NON-EXISTENT. How how are we supposed to support ourselves, and possibly families, with silly words our brain makes up and our fingers spit out? That doesn’t sound plausible. Like, writing as a job? Excuse me while I try not to laugh in your face.
And then you wonder, did they tell me this because they think I’m a terrible writer and are too nice to say it outright? Are they jealous about my writing skills? Am I suffering from delusions? Do they not want me to be happy? Are they so unhappy that they want me to be unhappy with them? Does no one love me? Why do I exist?
We writers, especially young and new writers, tend to have vivid imaginations and rather tender egos when it comes to our writing. Please kick cautiously. We might break. Questioning our writing, ability to write, and future in writing is akin to insulting our purpose for living. You did NOT just say that. You didn’t. I’ll pretend you didn’t, because otherwise I’ll have to curse your family. You threaten what makes me happy and I’ll write you into a dead character so fast you won’t be able to repent your lifelong overuse of exclamation marks.
Yes, writing as a career is tricky and trialing and yes, sometimes it doesn’t work out. We all know the odds of us becoming the next JK Rowling or
EL James John Green are very, very slim. We don’t expect our stories to hit the big screen starring Johnny Depp and Zoe Saldana. We don’t expect to sell millions of our very first novel. Heck, we’re lucky if we e-publish a short story and someone decides to pay the $0.99 for it.
But there are jobs for writing. The only job for writing is not titled BEST SELLING NOVELIST. There are plenty of jobs out there. You may have to look. You may be rejected (well, you will be, multiple times). You may cry and scream and pull your hair out because, man, deadlines and expectations and I have no knowledge about the eating habits of earth worms and gaaaaaah.
But they exist. THEY EXIST. (Can you hear me screaming?)
Journalists, reporters, screenwriters, commercial writers, speech writers for politicians, freelance journalism, magazine contributors, bloggers, songwriters (hook up with a local band!), travel writers, biographers, poets, advertisers, playwrights, spoken word writers, campaign writers (social, cultural, political), e-zine writers, university professors, GREETING CARD AUTHORS, comic book writers, video game writers.
Heck, edit essays for students.
Tudor Tutor someone. Write reports for companies or businesses. Be a ghost writer, if that’s your thing. Some people are too busy to run their own websites. Design posters. Make word art. Team up with a couple people and start your own magazine addressing issues you care about.
Writing is often the principle part of our being. If we didn’t have that part of ourselves, what would we have? I, for one, would be lost. I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be as happy.
I’m willing to set aside the dream of BEST SELLING NOVELIST if I can only be content and you know, live in a house of some kind. I want to be writing. It might mean writing articles about the eating habits of earth worms, but I’m okay with that. It’s writing. Writing is what I breathe for. It provides me with the most amount of self-fulfillment I could imagine.
Sacrificing that would be, frankly, stupid.
Maybe I believe too much in personal happiness, but to me happiness is the purpose of life. And the first step to being happy is being happy with yourself. And I’m my happiest when I’m writing, thinking about writing, reading, thinking about reading, and talking about reading and writing.
I’m not willing to give that up because “jobs for writing are non-existent.”
To everyone who has ever told me this, this isn’t a direct jab at you. I’m just ranting in general. You helped me write this. So thank you.