Writing. Mostly I’m so glad I worked out this is my thing. Sometimes, I wonder. It’s been the source of some of the highest highlights of my life.
Opening a box of books with my name on the cover.
Becoming part of a writing community of people I respect and admire, and feeling respected and admired right back.
Getting published in places I could’ve only dreamed of.
Having a voice that is listened to on issues that matter to me, and matter in the world.
Spending a huge portion of my life doing what I’m great at, experiencing the magic of making something come from nothing, knowing the something is good and makes a difference.
Getting feedback from someone when my writing has touched them. Changed them.
Impacting peoples lives for good. Impacting them at all.
These parts are wonderful. But writing has also been the source of some of my darkest moments and deepest hurts.
Rejection after rejection after rejection from editors and publishers and agents in pursuit of reaching more people, and trying to make a living from what I love.
Mostly not being paid for hours and hours of work.
Being promised things by people who have the power to take your writing where you want it to go, only to find the promising you things was something that person does to feel powerful, and was not an actual thing they ever intended to do. In other words, being let down.
Having people close doors on you because of things you’ve written, because you told the truth about what you think and believe, like when you lose a job because someone read what you wrote, and your beliefs aren’t in line with the beliefs of the organisation. Being judged and rejected because of your honesty and openness in writing publicly about what you think.
Spending hours and hours creating a body of work to sometimes have that work disappear from the face of the earth, because of hackers, or bad memory, or when a website shuts down, or simply because people want something new today to replace yesterday’s stuff.
Having people argue with you, judge you, decide they hate you, troll you, outright reject you, think they know you, presume the worst of you, criticise you and flip you off, and they’ve never met you or spoken to you in real life.
Having your mother respond to your writing with concerns about your mental health.
Having nobody read your writing. Or care that you wrote. Or care about what you wrote. At all.
These are a few of the downsides of being a writer. Is it worth it? I believe so. Sometimes, like now, it’s hard to balance up the great things about being a writer with the bad things. More of my published works have been lost through hackers and website shutdowns than still exist online. Needing to help my family eat still keeps me working hours a day in other jobs. There’s barely any glamour in being a writer, that’s for sure. Yet, I am one. Maybe it’s arrogant of me to still assume the things that go on in my head are at all interesting to anyone but myself, but what can I do? This is all I have. This is what I am. To stop writing now would be to kill a part of myself, and, having almost died in real life a couple of times, I know I can’t really afford to amputate the thing that keeps me alive in about fifty ways, when my body and circumstances are conspiring to pull me in the other fifty.
And this is what it means to be alive. To find out what you were made for and simply do it, without thinking about fame or money, but thinking about being fully alive, instead of half dead. Because I may be not rich and not famous, but by God, I am not dead or dying, not any more.
Thanks for reading this. The fact you did so gives me great hope and comfort, because READING. Your reading this is the yang to my writing ying, and I deeply, deeply appreciate that you read what I write. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Love, Jo xxx