But never write for more than a hobby.
It’s a saying I made up ages ago. And now I believe it more than ever. And yes, I know. It sounds hypocritical. I don’t apply the saying to myself. I’m just trying to help the rest of the world. As in you.
I remember the way life used to be. It was…oh…maybe fifteen years ago. I was a young buck, full of fire. My nights were free, my weekends wide-open, and my creativity shoved aside in favor of endless nights out on the town, countless hours of playing awesome video games, and *gasp* having actual friends I got to see more than twice per year. In retrospect, I was like a three-legged dog: clumsy, happy, and completely unaware of my missing limb. Those were probably the best years of my life. I say probably. I mean definitely.
And then one day I decided to write a book.
It was an innocent choice. At twenty-five years old, I never thought I’d finish one book, let alone twenty. I figured I’d try, fail, try again, and then wander away from it like I had so many other hobbies.
Speaking of hobbies, here’s a pile of hobbies you should consider rather than entertain even the vaguest notion of writing: playing guitar, painting, running, acting, watching tv, drawing, playing sports, cooking, baking, foodie-ing, collecting, gardening, eating, dating, breathing, jumping, fighting, counting toothpicks, rocket engineering, and running for president.
Today, one-hundred and fifty thousand years removed from my decision to write, I realize there’s no going back. Ever. Never. I hear about other folks’ hobby and career choices. “Engineer,” they tell me. “Teacher. Taxi Driver. Lobbyist. Mortician.” And I realize that for every hour of the night they spend fretting over their jobs/lives, writers spend quintuple. A steel worker hurts, a teacher grades homework after school, a grocer frets about bills, but me, I live and die a thousand times every night. My dark little hearts soars with one sentence scratched out, and crumbles to dust with the next. I dream a new story in the night, and realize the next morning I’ll never live nearly long enough to write it.
Mind you, I’m not complaining about my choices. I’m merely suggesting a different career path for you. And for the readers, perhaps giving a glimpse of my envy. You feel me, right?
When I wake at dawn of every day, my first thought is of writing.
When I sleep, I dream not of falling, fighting, or flying, but of tales beyond my ability to put into words.
When I go the park, I can’t just walk and be at peace. I see stories living in every tree, lurking behind every cloud, and wilting in every flower.
In a way, it’s a sort of madness. I could live for eons and never get it all out. I could fill every sheaf of paper in the world…and find it lacking.
The hardest part is the time invested. You’ll never get it back. Instead of existing in the living, breathing world (which is where you should be) writers are lost in the corridors of their minds. It’s fun to write a blog, cute to polish up a magazine article, and masterful to punch out a short story. But then the next idea comes…and the next…and the next. And before you know it, you’re lost in it. Your friends have forgotten you, your nights are lonely, and your significant other thinks you’re a ghost (because you are.) Domesticity and relationships don’t gel with writers’ self-haunting. Doubting the truth? Google the lives of some of the more famous novelists: Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, f’n Kurt Cobain.
See? Told you.
And the most f’d up part about it all? The catch-22? The double-reverse hypocrisy of the whole thing? …none of them would’ve ever had it another way.
And neither would I.
So I’m suggesting to you and any loved ones you know who are contemplating joining the club:
Think twice. You’ll thank me later.
If you’re curious, all my madness is stored right here.