I just finished reading one of many encouraging articles about writers dealing with a crisis of faith in following their dream. Am I wasting my time? Should I stop writing and find a real career? Am I being selfish by following my dream?
Given how easy it is to find this same topic on every web site and in every book about writing, it must be a common problem. Sometimes it seems like that alone, the simple realization that almost every writer goes through those periods of crisis, should make it better. To know you aren't the only one and that most writers who have succeeded in their writing careers have gone through this should be comforting. It isn't. Why? Because somewhere in the back of our minds we understand that every writer who didn't make it went through it too. We know that suffering through those moments of self-doubt isn't any guarantee that the struggle is going to be worth it in the end.
I count myself lucky in many ways. My family, my husband, and many of my friends stand behind me in my pursuit of a career as a fiction author. In fact, they are my best fans and, in many cases, my most reliable reviewers. I don't think all writers are that fortunate and I hope they all realize how important they are to me because of that.
My struggles come in two forms. The first is a deep fear of letting down those wonderful people who have been supporting me while I chase my dream. I don’t have a good solution for that other than to try not to let them down. The other is a sense of the opportunity I am turning away. I have made more than $50 an hour as a technical writer. That kind of money is not easy to walk away from, especially considering that, if I do really well, I might scrape together a living wage as a fiction author. The problem is that, no matter how good I am at it or how much I make doing it, I am never happy doing technical writing. There is no satisfaction in it for me. I feel like a caged bird. Worse yet, at the end of a day of technical writing, the last thing I am up for is yet more writing, but I am not happy when I am not creating stories. It is a downward spiral for me.
What to do?
Well, the downswing in the economy has helped me with that question. When I found myself jobless in a now extremely competitive environment, my husband and I talked and decided that I should take the opportunity to focus on my writing. So that is what I do every day now. I treat this like my job. I set goals and personal deadlines. I work hard at it. I believe I can make it happen. I does me no good not to believe.
I've had my moments of success. I've sold a few stories and have one that has just barely missed the cut twice. To be honest, I hate writing short stories. My passion is for longer work. I am running a fantasy trilogy through its fourth edit while I send out submission packets for book one of the three. I am almost ready to submit a novella to publishers and I am editing a fourth unrelated novel that I believe has great potential. I have about seven more novels in various states of completion or planning waiting in the wings. I also have a few short stories seeking publication because I do, occasionally, write one that has some promise. And those wonderful supporters of mine, they are helping me polish my work. I love them for it (and for a few other reasons). :)
I guess what I am saying is, this is my job. A lot of people think I am good at it, but the final word on that is in the hands of agents and publishers I don’t know. Regardless, I take it very seriously and I think that is important.
Not everyone who wants to be an author is going succeed, but if you are willing to put out the effort, are willing to research and try to master your craft, if you can stomach all those rejection letters that stand between you and your dream, then I think you are at least giving yourself a fighting chance. If you really, really want it, then search out those opportunities in your life, find the people who will support you and nurture them. Give yourself a chance and take it seriously.