It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.
I am the sort of man who writes because he has made progress, and who makes progress by writing.
Writing, as far as most of us mere mortals are concerned, requires the commitment and focus of a full time job—and more besides. Add in decades of effort, and you may just reach an acceptable standard.
Sad to say, I don’t think anyone who doesn’t write themselves, understands writers. Even then, you have got to sub-divide us into those who write for a paycheck—and the few, the brave, the proud, and the mostly broke, who write books in the hope that they will sell. Indeed, some us us even hope to get published by a major publishing house. And some of us, who have had that debatable privilege, live for a time when one can escape the clutches of such dubious middlemen (many are women) and sell near directly to our readers. The money might not be as good, but numerous other factors compensate—and, frankly, you get to associate with a better class of human being.
In truth, you could go on subdividing. Books and related circumstances come in near endless variations, so what all most of us really only have in common is pretty lousy treatment by agents and publishers—if we have the stamina to get that far--and a passion for what we do.
That passion, at least as far as I am concerned, compensates for everything—and it only seems to grow as the years pass.
But there is one extra thing that I should probably mention. That is that the number of jobs that have been shed in the newspaper and magazine business over the last couple of decades has been truly terrifying. As a consequence, it is extremely tough to get magazine work—and it rarely pays well.
A recent report concluded that no less than 54,200 newspaper and magazine jobs had been axed since 2003.
Just thought you should know.