So I don’t do many personal posts, but for some reason today, I felt like maybe I should. It’s Sunday, why not? And I wanted to talk about why I decided to become a writer. That’s pretty basic, right? What could go wrong?
Many people will tell you they became writers because it is in their blood. They started writing when they were young, or they graduated from college with an English degree or they retired from their career and decided to pen the great American (or English or Brazilian or Polish) novel. But for me it was none of those. I started writing for one reason: money.
And before you start laughing, hear me out. When I started toying with the idea of writing in the summer of 2014, I didn’t know the first thing about the business of being an author. I didn’t know about agents, conferences, none of it. I genuinely thought I could write a story, get a few people to read it, polish it, and then somehow magically get it published. Screw the details, I’d deal with them later. I’d heard the community was small, and if I could just finish a manuscript, then I could probably get it out there. At the time, I didn’t even know if I could write a book, but I was dying to try. And I was having some issues regarding money. Not trouble necessarily, but I thought if I could provide a supplemental income, all the better.
Believe me, I know all this sounds unbelievably naive and shallow. And it was. I was. I didn’t care about the craft itself, I cared about getting paid.
So I spent seven months penning my very first novel. And yes, I finished it. Around 80K words. When I was writing I wasn’t even sure I’d make it, but somehow, it happened. And then I spent another month editing and cleaning it up.
And then I gave it to a few people to read.
Here comes the big surprise: it was terrible. No, I was not the next Stephen King or even the next Stephanie Meyer. My friends didn’t hate it, but they didn’t love it either. And I got a lot of advice. I needed to join a writer’s group. I needed to educate myself. I needed to learn the business. And all of that sounded like more than I was willing to take on. I was just looking for a paycheck, and I wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision. Money was no longer as big of an issue as it had been when I started, so why not just quit? Why not move on to something else and put my energy where I wasn’t wasting my time?
Because I fell in love.
I fell in love with writing. Not right at first and not all at once. It was gradual. I don’t think I even realized it until I was on my third book. I found not writing difficult, as if I were wasting time when I could be writing…when I could be creating. And I realized I loved crafting stories, and that maybe I had always been meant to do this, and never realized it.
As a kid I was so disappointed I couldn’t draw. I tried, I practiced and I just had a very hard time with it. I longed to create fantastic things on paper, and I couldn’t make it happen. No matter how many times I drew Garfield he never looked right. But writing, writing was easy. It came naturally, so much that I didn’t even realize it. Whenever there was a writing assignment in class I breezed through it, no problem. For fun I wrote stories about magical creatures under the earth. So many words came from my hands that I ended up writing two “books” about said creatures. And then I started writing sequels to my favorite movies. And all of this before I was even in high school. It was all for fun, for no reason at all. Writing was like breathing, it was simultaneously effortless and necessary.
And then high school came along and all of my writing went into reports and analysis and all that crap which only continued through college. And by the time I was done with school I had completely forgotten how much I’d loved creating. How much I’d loved being an artist.
Even though my initial motivation was greed, I consider myself so amazingly lucky that I found my way back. I could have very easily walked through the rest of my life never rediscovering what I loved, and what a miserable existence it would have been. In fact, I remember envying people who had found their “talent” and wishing that could be me. I don’t envy people anymore. I know who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing. And even if I never sell a word I will keep writing until the day I die.
Because I am in love. And I will never forget again.