“MARCH OR DIE”—OR DO I MEAN “WRITE?”
JUST REMEMBER: IT MAY WELL BE A LONG MARCH
My beautiful sister Lucy’s web site has once again produced an admirable graphic. She must be telepathic.
Sometimes I think that everybody can write, but what stops most people is the amount of stamina required. We are talking years, at best, and probably longer. Of course my comment about everybody being able to write is not true—a great many people can scarcely construct a coherent paragraph, let alone write a 400 page book, but I am just saying it to emphasize that making a living from writing requires more endurance than you can imagine. And the number of people who believe in you may shrink to a frighteningly small total. The good news is that all you need is one. The bad news is that you may not have even that—unless, and until, you are financially successful. Becoming a good writer, in the critical sense, does not cut it because we—such value being part of our current cultural norms--are conditioned to regard financial success as the only determinant. True, it is important and useful—but, it is not, and should not be, the sole standard by which we judge achievement.
People will support almost anyone doing anything for a limited time—frequently without understanding it—but they get very exasperated when months stretch into years; and their support evaporates and tends to be replaced by frustration, irritation and anger.
Why so? Because most of us live corporate or government manipulated, structured lives which are divided into predictable bite-sized bits within the context of short time frames. Pay is generally predictable—as long as you have a job, which you can lose if you step out of line—and comes every couple of weeks or every month. Accordingly someone who is prepared to wait for years for an uncertain payoff is considered both irresponsible and arguably insane. And he or she is certainly different—and different is not considered to be good. People are uncomfortable around you. They wonder what you do all day—suspect it has to be something dubious—and marginalize you. If nothing else, you are the antithesis of the corporate/government mindset—so your very existence threatens the status quo. You really need to be put down—literally, metaphorically; or both..
Welcome to my writer’s world. Is it worth it? Many would think not. I can’t think of anything more invigorating. Do I mind the setbacks, the judgmental attitudes, the negative comments and the criticism?
What I mind is irrelevant. I just know I have got to continue. I guess, if we were talking about religion, we would call that faith—and perhaps it is.
My heart goes out to my fellow struggling writers—and all writers, whether successful or not, struggle. Hang in there! You may have no immediate support, but you are not alone. I doubt you give a damn. You have writing.