When the Writing Dream is Under Attack

I like to think that I have my head on straight when it comes to my expectations for a writing career.  Ultimately, the goal is to do this full time and that has to involve making money, so I can’t say that I am in it just for kicks. I love it enough to want to devote many, many, many (many) hours to this craft. I do not expect to be the “next big thing” in the writing world but, yeah, sometimes I let myself dream about what it would/could be like if it did happen. The hubs and I have conversations that revolve around what our lives will be like when I am a household name and we discuss where we will have our vacation houses and what car he will drive when it’s raining outside as opposed to the car he will have for when he is feeling dangerous and, of course, we had to decide on a limit for the amount of cats I would be allowed to have on my cat farm.

However, knowing that I have not even gotten through one querying process yet (which will probably flat out kill me since I take criticism as well as a feline takes to water – so cold and wet and unpleasant!), even considering that future is kind of laughable. But it is still fun. I draw the line at fun though, as it will probably never be a reality. But just HAVING a writing career? Now that is a different story.

dream writing

I guess what has gotten me all worked up is an article I recently stumbled upon by happenstance. The article was on Forbes.com titled “Why You Shouldn’t Be a Writer” – click here to read.

Now, I understand the majority of people that this article was probably targeted at are those individuals who wake up one day and think that they want to just give writing a try. And then those same people, with little to no experience, also believe that they can become the next J.K. Rowling because a few friends told them they wrote a good story or two. I have seen a few other articles like this before and it does make sense to me why real professionals get a little irritated by it. Writing can be a craft that appeals to many while only a few actually stick it out, and even fewer still find a stable career from it. However, this is the first article in which I felt personally attacked when I read it because it seemed to say to me “it doesn’t matter who you are or how good you think you are, you will never be a writer.”

As I said before, I have no dreams of grandeur (that I actually expect to come true to be happy) on pursing a writing career but I still believe that with commitment and continuing effort, I do have a fighting chance of making a name for myself that is respectable and successful. There was no part of this article that led me to believe the author felt that anyone out there was capable of having a writing career. It just generalized everyone reading it to say, hey YOU, you’ll never be good enough to make it. I just felt it was doused in negativity and was basically asking all who read it to set fire to their dreams.

Maybe that is what some people need. There are a lot of disillusion writers out there that think they are going to make it big right out of the gate. Now, I think it is important to have confidence but some folks  just need a reality check and re-evaluate their writing career goals. I recently read an aspiring author’s blog in to which she suggested that she would be selling 10 million copies of her book when she found an agent and that she definitely would be getting on a certain popular talk show because so many people have told her that her novel’s theme was perfect for the show. I found this extremely hard to believe based just on the fact that her blog posts were unorganized and rambled on to no end. Also, after viewing the last three or four posts, the messasge seemed to be exactly the same: Same Rambling, Different Day.

There are also the people that think since they are so talented and amazing that they don’t have to follow rules or make an effort to impress people with their work; they just expect it. I thoroughly enjoy reviewing the Slushpile Hell Tumblr that an anonymous agent started. It really helps to know what NOT to do before submitting queries.

Back to this dream-punching article though, I would have found it to be more constructive if the message had been something similar to a quote from On Writing, Stephen King’s How To on the writing craft:

“While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.”

What do you all think – was this article meant to weed out most people who don’t really have what it takes to be a writer or do you think it was overly critical and disheartening and that I should sulk for a bit by watching really bad TV and eating Ben and Jerry’s …and then write the next best seller and dedicate it to the author of the article by simply saying: “It has been a pleasure proving you wrong.” HAH!

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8 thoughts on “When the Writing Dream is Under Attack

  1. the author’s tone in the article is definitely condescending, and I don’t appreciate the fact that he is, essentially, speaking to anyone and everyone reading his article. The only element of truth I could gain from his article (and i had to read between the lines) was that people need a realistic view of their writing career. I did like this part of the article, however: “Can you make the words sing? Does your prose have that certain something? Are you gifted at showing not telling, or telling not showing, or creating an entire world that didn’t exist before that is born again when someone else reads your work?”

    Don’t even bother with the sulking, just write the next best seller 🙂

  2. Indeed, the article was overbearingle negative; but I suspect that if another misguided people contact you and expect great things to come to them through relatively little effort, like many new writers, then you’d become a cold, tight-arsed witch like that too.

    Great article, by the way. A nice antidote to Ms. Ice Queen’s pessimism.

    • Thank you! Yes, I can understand the reasoning behind it but it just seemed to be directed at the entire unpublished writing community and, although I have encountered those misguided “writers” before, there are far too many talented writers out there that I hope do not take this to heart.

      • Agreed. Even if 1 in a 1,000,000 manuscripts are publishable, every single one should be awarded equal consideration; just because something isn’t commercially viable in the current market doesn’t make it bad writing. What somebody should never do — which the author of that article very much seemed to hint at being only natural — is to point and laugh at somebody who is trying.

  3. Ironic that a writer wrote that very article 😉

    You don’t need to feel bad, just keep moving forward. I don’t read those types of articles anymore, they are just disheartening. And by the way, even Stephanie Meyer rambles on her website, that didn’t stop her from being a best-seller and from breaking records and inspiring many other writers to go the Vampire route. She worked hard to make it happen.

    I believe that the most successful writers do it from the heart, and most of them know in their hearts that “they’re not the best.” No one is. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best and succeed. I’m all for reaching for the stars now–in the direction of your dreams. If you have a story, tell it. If you have a heart, show it.

    Everyone who writes does it their own way, and every one of those ways has a purpose and an audience. The hard work, I believe, is firstly–writing (which many people find difficult to do), and secondly–working hard to get it “out there” so that your audience will see it. The love will be exchanged; everyone wins!

    What do you think?

    • Lila, I whole-heartedly agree. I am working hard to build up my armor against these kinds of opinions because they do not do me any good in the end. If I love to write and it comes from the heart, as you said, then everything else will happen as it should.

      And, just to clarify on the blog I read that rambled, it was mostly her rambling about how great her story was going to be and nothing else. I think some “ramblings” are entertaining and witty and I love them …but, in that particular reference, the author didn’t seem to have a grasp on growing herself as a writer – only vindication that her stuff was good and people would see when she was famous. These are the kinds of people that I believe led the author of that article to snap and write that piece. Just in my opinion, though.

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