I was on top of the world. My story had been published in a national publication. A local newspaper had interviewed me, and my friends and family sent congratulations.
Then a man I knew asked to see the book I was published in.
“How great,” I thought. “He wants to read my story.”
I brought a copy of the book to him. He stared at the cover, a bit confused. I told him which page my story was on.
“You just have one story in the book?” He shook his head. “I thought you wrote the whole thing”
My heart sank. After all my hard work submitting to publications, I finally had something to be proud of, and he acted like it was nothing.
Someone else asked me how much money I made for the story I sold. When I told her, she said, “Better keep your day job.”
It’s hard to stay hopeful when you are a writer. Especially when people make rude comments like that. They act like a nationally published story isn’t a good thing - as if being paid to write isn’t a good thing.
You love it and did it when it was just a hobby. Yet it’s great to pay your mortgage every month. And when you stop to think of all those hours you spend working a day job when you could be writing? They are lost forever; the time you will never get back. After all, you have to live. You have to pay the bills.
The news is discouraging. According to a survey by The Author’s Guild in 2018, American authors made a median annual income of $6,080 in 2017. Definitely not an income you can support yourself on.
Yet we write. We write because we love it. We yearn to express all the thoughts in our minds and share them with others. We write because it’s like breathing to us, and writing is our life.
Writing down our thoughts helps us work through our own problems. In an ideal world. we wouldn’t care what anyone says. They may say we’ll never make a living at it, they may say we’re not the best writer, they may say we’re too young, or too old. But we must persevere, and follow our muse.
I have a friend who loves to write, but she’s afraid to say she’s an author because she doesn’t have a book published. She’s a great writer who earns money from it. She's had her stories published, but she’s still afraid to own it. It’s all because her name isn’t on the cover of a book. How easy to forget all the accomplishments she’s made in writing. She has earned the right to claim her author's name.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been published or not. If you are writing, you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever been published. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the best at it. Many of us suffer from imposter syndrome. We secretly wonder what in the world made us think we could write anything. But yes, we are authors. Own it.
Writing's a real career
We live for the day when we can inspire a reader, or touch someone’s heart. We delight in spinning tales that people will never forget. And we all hope to write that cherished book, that someone will call their favorite. We aspire to something greater than ourselves.
Meanwhile, we deal with skepticism from others, who laugh at our dreams and insist we need a real career to be of value. There are even well-meaning people who insist you should go back to college for a high-paying medical career or apply for that secretary or sales job. They can’t possibly imagine you spending so much effort and time on something you are not going to be well compensated for. They will never see you as a success until you show them.
All writers get discouraged at times
Author Stephen King was struggling financially when he wrote “Carrie.” His wife dug it out of the trash, and the rest is history. His bestselling novel went on to become a movie. His success would have never happened if it wasn’t for a supportive wife who recognized talent when she read it.
Maybe you don’t have any supportive people in your life. Maybe no one's told you how talented you are. In that case, you must believe in yourself. Keep on writing, even when publications reject you, and no one curates your articles.
- Polish your skills
- Read books about writing
- Take a college writing course
- Seek out mentors
- Join a writer’s group
- Surround yourself with positive, creative people you can learn from.
If this is the dream that keeps you going every day, you must not give up. If writing were easy, everyone would be writing New York Times bestsellers. Yet most people who start a book never finish it. Don’t be one of those people.
You Can Overcome Obstacles
Writing can be hard and tedious. After delving into your imagination and writing the first draft, the difficult work of editing a manuscript begins. You write numerous drafts. You spend hours cutting out parts and perfecting sentences. It’s a long and lonely process. With great dreams, comes great effort.
Eventually, your novel is going to be ready to put on the market. Even then, there is no guarantee that an agent will sign you or a publisher will pick up your book. And you must be strong enough to face rejection. Because every writer has collected rejection slips at one time or another. The weak ones quit, and the successful ones persevere. Obstacles are part of a writer's journey. You never know what will happen. You can write a blog post that only your Mama will read, and the next thing you know, an editor is offering you a book contract. Amazing opportunities do happen if you don’t give up.
And the joy of seeing one of your stories published, or a book published is exhilarating. There’s nothing like it. It’s worth all the obstacles that you overcame to get there.
There’s hope for you. J.K. Rowling was a struggling single Mom, and now her books are known all over the world,
That’s the beauty of being a writer. There are no limitations. You can strive to be anything you want to be. You can use your creativity to change the world, and change your own life while doing it.