#110: Writing Against the Odds

The numbers of writing and publishing books can be pretty disconcerting to see.

Most people admit that they would like, at some point, to write a book. Cool. But most people, who set out to write a book, also never finish one. Out of the few that do finish a draft of their story, most will never see it published. And those who do get their books published will never see them on the bestseller lists. Only a fraction of books will earn out their advance. In fact, most published authors will never be able to write full time without supplementing their income somehow.

Doesn’t the writing life sound fantastic? And yet, we’re still here, stringing one word after the other, early in the morning and late at night, between shifts and on our lunch breaks. We want to share our ideas and stories with the world and writing is the best way to do that.

We’re not here for the money, that would be silly. At the same time, we’re still hoping to make it one day. To see our work recognised, and to be able to do more of it.

Writing is hard. Facing the blank page, the agonising edits, all the rejections from agents and publishers, the mean reviews from readers. Why put yourself through all of that when you could be doing so many other things? Like writing? Shut up and get yerself a law degree, kid.

It’s entirely possible, quite probable even that writing won’t be for you. But unless you really try and go for it, you’ll never know. That’s the hardest part. Stephen King wouldn’t be where he is now if he wrote casually every other weekend for an hour. In the early days, when he was grinding and nailing the stacks of rejections slips on the wall, he had no idea that he would go to become one of the world’s top selling authors. He had a family to take care of and worked as a teacher.

At the end of the day, someone will become the next Stephen King and J. K. Rowling. Someone will be the next Tolkien and Christie and Austen and even Shakespeare in a few hundred years. I wouldn’t necessarily count on it, but it might just as well be you.

For the rest of us, who says that being a mid-list, self-published or even unpublished author writing on the side while earning your living in other ways is a bad life? If you like telling stories and writing good sentences, not having to rely on your words as the primary source of income will give you the ultimate freedom to write what you want and do what you want with it.

Besides, so many skills and habits that you pick up while pursuing your passion for writing are instantly applicable in a range of other career and life situations as well. Writing sharpens your thinking and can be beneficial to your mental health. Learning how stories work is learning about life. In its essence, writing is a form of communication. If you can think clearly and write well, plenty of opportunities will come your way.

A career in writing can seem pretty bleak on paper, but if you have the bug, I encourage you to go for it. Give it all you have and remember that you don’t have control over everything. Whatever happens, you will be a better person at the end.

Good luck.

What I Am Reading

I’m still a bit behind on reading, trying to catch up. I’ve read a couple of rather dry technical books this week and found out that I have four unused Audible credits on my account. Any audio books that blew your mind recently? What should I get?


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