Thursday, June 14, 2012
I recently read a post by Susanna Breslin on Forbes (6/12/2012) about why you shouldn't be a writer. Susannah has one excellent point. If you want to get rich, writing is not the way to do it, unless you have some other accomplishment to your credit, or you've been involved in a terrible disaster. There are so many books available today, both published by the traditional press and self-published, it's amazing that anyone is selling well. However, becoming a millionaire isn't the only reason to become a writer.
One point she makes that I disagree with is that you shouldn't write because you're not good at it. Many, many people aren't really good writers. In my estimation, that includes a fair number that are published by large publishers. Writing is a craft that can be learned. The problem is that a great many writers think a creative imagination is plenty, stick words on paper and you're done. It doesn't work that you. If you want to be a writer you have to spend time learning how to do it well. If you wanted to be a brain surgeon, you wouldn't start by cutting people's heads open. (Thankfully, there are laws against that.)
A second point that I agree with is that writing is hard. Yes, it is hard to write well, and it takes time to craft a story, poem or even a non-fiction piece that accurately portrays your view of the world and is something another person would like to read. However, the fact that it's hard is not a reason not to do it. Many worthwhile things are hard to do. In fact, in my experience most worthwhile things are difficult. That is no reason to not attempt them. It's a call to recognize that you have to work that much harder to succeed.
Finally, my own reason for being a writer is that it makes me happy to create something. I feel wonderful when, as happened this weekend, my neighbor, who I'd give a book to, told me he'd give me an A+. He felt the book gave him an experience he wouldn't have had otherwise, and he enjoyed the ride. If you want to please other people and yourself, you have to be ready to work hard and learn your craft, but it's not a reason to give up your dream of being a writer. Just don't expect to get rich.