This posting by John Scalzi really got me thinking. Just why do I write? Why do I put myself through this, neglect my family (a little) to satisfy my ego? It’s not, as Jeff Vandermeer found many people claim, because I am driven to do it. It’s a choice I have made and I find myself regularly questioning that choice every time a rejection comes back and every time I’m not enjoying the success I thought I would.
I guess if I’m honest I’m not as committed as I might be. Part of that is because I have a fairly busy job and a family so, unlike the lone gunslingers out there, this cannot be all that I do. And that causes me pain, because I’d like to. There is a lot at stake in trying to make this work, in trying to be a writer. Part of who I think am, who I consider myself to be, is a writer. If I cannot be that person, cannot live up to it for one reason or another, then that is going to do me some psychological damage. Because it means I have to re-think who I actually am. No longer am I the lizard-eyed ace of the keyboard who can turn a memorable phrase as easily as they can a corner. Instead I’m someone who couldn’t do it. Couldn’t live up to the idea of being a writer and became something else. Notice that all those comparisons are negative, I’m genuinely worried by what I would be if I cannot do the writing thing.
I’m a fool for books, I’ve said that before, and the life of someone who does that for a living seems an envious one. I remember reading Charles Stross saying that, after years of messing about, he suddenly got serious about writing and its gone as right for him as it can for anyone since he made that decision.
But I’ve read too that the difference between writers and everyone else is that writers write. Others do not. So, even if success is elusive then the fact that you are writing is some compensation. Just not enough to retire on.