Wanting to write a book is weird.
In today’s inclusive and encouraging society it might seem like we can pursue whatever dreams we want. Being some degree of professional writer is easier today than it ever has been. And there are some great success stories of those who are able to quit their jobs and write full time.
But those people are outliers, and they are weird, and it is a bold thing to say you are one of them.
Let me ask a simpler question. What do parents want for their children? A good many things certainly, but the most basic is parents want their children to be able to support themselves and maybe someday a family. Parents want their children to stand on their own two feet. Writing, to many, doesn’t seem like a terribly viable way to do that.
Sure there’s social stigmas of being “artsy” and there’s the whole “I don’t know how you find the time” argument, but the practical argument is often the best, writing doesn’t pay well, at least at first.
My parents were always very encouraging of my creativity. I grew up in an unusual world through my Dad’s ministry. Many of his fellow staff workers had published books of non-fiction and fiction alike, so writing a book never seemed that weird to me. I grew up in a house surrounded by books (buried might be the more appropriate term). And yet it was still important to get a “day job”. Now I’m not saying that I couldn’t have tried to make the writing pay and have it be the only thing, and for some people this is the crucible they need. I just knew from a very early age that if I wanted to have a wife, a family, and a house, writing had to coexist with another job. I could have a whole other post on why I think for my particular type of writing having a job is actually a very good thing, but for the moment I’m not making enough from writing to have it be the only thing (actually I have yet to get paid, hopefully this year).
I know we shouldn’t be judging each other’s choices in life, but a lot of us do. Even if you’re doing the “practical responsible” thing, there will be people who see you as weird for wanting to write.
This is by no means a bad thing.
You just need to understand what you’re getting yourself into. Not everyone is the kind of person who can put all they are out in front of people and not be affected if others don’t accept them. Some people, even if they are not writers themselves, love to talk about books and stories, and can be a great encouragement. But plenty of others aren’t really that interested. It might be a good idea to feel out which they are before dropping the “writer” tag on them.
This might sound like I’m being discouraging, but trust me, I’m not. I’m merely trying to state that for many writing is a kind of flight of fancy enterprise, maybe even a childish or un-adult profession. For those of us who work in the “real world”, we need to get along with many different kinds of people, while staying “true to our dreams”.
We can spend all day saying we’re a writer, and many of us have the passion to talk someone’s ear off. But it might be better, at least at first, to keep our dream to ourselves, to actually get work done that other’s can see, and to have something we can really be proud of beyond identity.
Have you ever had a hard time telling someone you’re a writer (friends, family, co-workers)?