It’s a simple recipe. Half a cup of waking up, two tablespoons of pulling on “work” clothes, a dollop of dreariness, one teaspoon of hunger, a full cup of coffee, and a smidge of motivation. I’m at my computer, a handcrafted playlist or the Big Little Lies soundtrack playing on repeat as I come to the conclusion that I have to work.
And not work like writing, revising, or planning. The other job, the paying job is always the priority. It’s not a bad thing, we all have bills and things we need or want to pay for in our capitalist society, but I would give anything if my recipe was reserved just for the career I’m striving towards.
I’ve always had a deep block when I had to explain to someone what my job was. I still do. I want to admit I’m a writer, scream it from the rooftops, but I always end up saying “I grade papers, and I’m a fake patient sometimes.” Again, not terrible things to be. I like my other jobs and they’ve provided me with a lot of experience and insights over the years. Things that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
But I’ve been ignoring myself.
I’ve pushed aside what I’ve strived for because it’s not viable. The only extremely successful writers are the ones that have been with us since we were kids or earlier. Yeah, outliers like Gillian Flynn are noticed and paraded about (as well as she should be), but there’s hardly a new writer out there that can break even let alone break through.
We’ve become a society of free magic. Entertainment costs as much as it takes to download an app. Anyone and anything can throw something up online, be it writing or videos, and hope that something will stick at some point. That someone will notice them and catapult them to the success and imminent crash of our viral world.
Everyone thinks they’re writers.
It’s true, in a way. Anyone can write, can understand the craft, can breathe life into anything they set their mind too. But with this mindset, no one is willing to realize that the job of writing is still that, a job.
It’s getting every thought out of your head whether it’s midnight or 6 am. It’s researching so frustratingly specific a topic that you only hope the info you can get is correct. It’s angrily submitting the same story to another WordPress publisher (usually paid in experience) for the third time only for it to get rejected six weeks later.
It’s building your own brand with spit and toothpicks because someone else already has the same look as you, same ideas as you, same everything as you. It’s finding a niche so far removed that you’re basically it’s only fan. It’s mental stress that turns into physical ailments when logically you know you’ve fucked up by choosing a so-called dying art, but you still pursue it anyway because you can’t love anything more than you love your imagination and the different things you can do with it.
I want to say this now: don’t feel bad for me. I don’t want you to. I’ve made my bed for life and I’m sure as hell going to lie in it. I just don’t want to lie about it anymore. I’m owning up to the decision so that anyone reading this can own up to theirs too.
Don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer, artist, actor, poet no matter how much of your material you’ve had to give away for free. That doesn’t lessen your work or what you’re trying to accomplish. Depending on what part of the world you’re living in, you’ve probably been told that what you love is useless to society, but I’m in an anti-establishment mood, so fuck what people tell you. If it’s not actual constructive criticism from a place of knowledge than their opinion means nothing.
As long as it doesn’t hurt yourself or others, do whatever you want. Tell everyone unabashedly that your calling doesn’t have to be theirs too. Tell them absolutely nothing if you don’t want to. It’s your life and your world to color in any way you want.
Find your own recipe. I’ve found mine. Even though I don’t get to use that recipe solely on the career I’ve worked for, it’s still a part of the process that will hopefully help me achieve my goals.
So I’m a writer, an author technically, and I’m ready to fully own that fact.