At this early stage in my writing career I thought it would be a good idea offer some of my insights into this fabulous craft that we are all so passionate about. You'll find that throughout this letter I have a fondness for certain phrases, have a certain style, and am wonderfully all over the place in the area of grammar and punctuation (my blog posts do not have the benefit of an amazing editor, or an editor of any kind, so you get what you get).
At this point I am convinced there are at least four things that every writer possesses:
- A desire to be a writer;
- at least one idea;
- a great support network; and
- something with which to write.
Naturally, to actually become a writer there are dozens upon dozens of other qualities, qualifications, and quirks you must possess, but in my opinion if you don't have those four you're not setting yourself up for success. Far be it for me, an unpaid, unpublished, part-time scribe to impart any advice; but I think those items are absolutely key - especially the third one. Contrary to the idea that writing is a solitary pursuit, I am finding that it actually requires quite a bit of input, feedback, and support from the many sources around me.
I am also in the extremely fortunate situation of having had a job working for someone else (and have since graduating from university), but for a lot of people writing is their job. It's a very real one, and at the rate my daughter is reading books it's a darned good thing they do it.
I have all the items from the list above and actually have something to show for it (writing wise) but I would only consider myself to be a part time writer. Due to my full time employment, my wife and kids, and all the activities that go along with them and the rest of the family and my friends, and all the costs and bills that come along as a result, I'm at the point that I need steady income in order to maintain the lifestyle I have chosen. I could cut back in a lot of areas and have some more time and money on hand but I suspect I'd be less fulfilled in many ways (hint: success and fulfillment have nothing to do with money).
There are times though, when I just feel compelled to create and this is where my support network really shines. I meet my commitments to my job and my family and in return they shower me with everything I need to bring my ideas to life. My job offers a work-life balance like none other. My wife will let me spitball ideas, or she will give me tips, or just sit and listen to me ramble, or she'll just leave me the hell alone. Heck, she said she'd go to the gym on her own after the kids go to bed so I can have an hour a night to just sit and write. Speaking of kids, mine are the greatest source of inspiration a person could ask for. They breathe life into my words even on topics they can't comprehend. My family is extremely supportive as well - especially my in-laws - and so are all my friends. I look forward to the day when some of them are beta readers for my novel (plus, I owe Neil Hedley a signature on his copy of my book at some point).
Unfortunately, I know some of you are actively discouraged from writing. Some of you are either published authors or aspiring to be, who have people in your life that would rather have you do something else. Anything else, in some cases. Your comments on this vary, but there seems to be an underlying theme: "When are you going to get a real job?"
Another common theme seems to be that many of these not-so-supportive comments come from the mouths of your family members: mothers, fathers, spouses, siblings, and the people closest to you. Now, I don't know about any of your personal situations or have any of the history behind your interactions so I've only been exposed to one side of the story. If I have learned anything from my thirty[mumble] years on Earth, it's that one side of a story is not enough to know the whole story. What I do know is that you are passionate about what you are doing, you are good at it, and you are remarkably supportive of others who choose to go down this path.
So I will close with this:
If you have the desire, the idea, and the something with which to write; and support is the only thing missing, then you have to do whatever you can do to find it. I'm not saying sell all your things, leave your spouse and kids, stop calling your mother, and move into a writer's commune, but I do think you owe it to yourself to find that support and try to work it into your life.
I can promise you that I'll do what I can to support you in a similar way that the people close to me are doing. I value the work that you do, and am grateful to have developed friendships with so many of you who do it.