By Guest Blogger Rima Jean
I love to write. There, I said it. I friggin’ LOVE to write. It doesn’t matter much what I’m writing — a how-to article on banana clips, an academic piece on the Reformation, a high-adventure fantasy/sci-fi — chances are, I will enjoy writing it.
And this is a very, very good thing. Why? Because being a writer SUCKS.
When I say “suck,” I mean it in the most offensive, most disgusting, most appalling way. I mean “big hairy gorilla balls” suck. (I am currently hoping my father still hasn’t figured out how to navigate Google and has forgotten my website address). Ask any successful writer if they think their jobs suck, and chances are they’ll tell you that at some point, it really did. Writing for money chews you up and spits you out like nothing else. It batters your ego and makes you question your abilities. It makes you want to cry like a little girl who was just told she has a major uni-brow and needs to pluck that damn thing. (What? No one has ever said that to me, I swear. Okay, except maybe in the sixth grade).
“Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was stabbed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman’s name out of a satire; then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to be a writer—and if so, why?”
~Bennett Cerf, Co-founder of Random House
How does writing suck? Oh, let me count the ways…
1. Whether your writing is “good” is completely and utterly subjective. Sure, there’s really, really good writing, and then there’s really, really bad writing. But most writers are in between. Literary agents are the industry’s gatekeepers because they’ve seen so much crap they can recognize the good from the bad. But the truth is, they like what they like. It may be “good” writing, but they may not like it. Plain and simple. Likewise, it may be bad writing, but they think it will sell. Sure, you can improve your writing by studying the craft, going to conferences, taking workshops, whatever. All of that definitely benefits you as a writer, but… in the end, it’s about the people with the power deciding if what you’ve written will sell.
2. Non-writers think being a writer is easy. Anyone can write, for God’s sake. What’s so hard about it? Just today, the Starbucks dude told me he was writing a memoir as he passed me my extra-huge latte. Really? That’s nice. Good luck with that. Excuse me while I go suck down my caffeine and try not to smack you.
3. Rejections abound. You need to be made of steel, people. Imagine if what people thought of your work was posted on Amazon and everywhere else on the interwebz for everyone to read. Imagine if stuff like, “Sue’s work really, really sucks” was up for everyone to see. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t piss you off. Rejection attacks you from every angle, whether you write for literary mags, for textbooks, for blogs, etc. Don’t take it personally, they tell you. But the fact of the matter is, you do. You can’t help it, because it’s like someone is looking at your face and telling you they don’t like your nose. Well, dude, what do you want me to do about it? It’s my nose.
I did not write this post with the intention of being “inspirational” or anything. Entertaining, maybe. Definitely not inspirational. This isn’t Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul material.
…Or maybe it is.
Because as discouraging as the above information is, writers are succeeding despite the odds every day. (Okay, maybe every two days). And the truth is, writing isn’t the only job that sucks – sucky jobs abound, and yet we do them because we refuse to quit, because as elusive as success is, it can be achieved. It will be achieved, goddammit! People are succeeding at their jobs all the time, not just because they refuse to give up, but because they believe in their abilities, they bounce back quickly, and they don’t let rejection stop them. Most importantly of all, they succeed because they love what they do.
Isn’t that the secret, after all? Do what you love, and no matter how much it sucks at times, success will find you if you keep at it? There’s a great saying… “A Quitter Never Wins And A Winner Never Quits” ~Napolean Hill.
As for me? I’ll keep on writing because I can’t imagine doing anything else. Yeah, it sucks at times, but I love to write. And if you love what you do, well, quitting, is just plain… stupid.
Rima Jean is a freelance writer, designer, and novelist. Her first novel, The Noble Pirates, was published in August of 2011. She lives in Houston with her husband and two little girls, who provide her with endless material for her blog. You can visit her at http://www.rimajean.com.
What do you think? Have you ever quit too soon? How do you know when to keep going, and when to throw in the towel? This can be a very ‘on the fence’ decision.
Today is Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day. Please give thanks today to all the men and women who served. May God continue to bless them and their families.
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