I wouldn’t say that I wanted to be a writer my entire life. The truth is that the idea of writing came to me after I matured. But as that idea of writing professioally settled in my head, it brought with it the burden of trying to actually make money from putting words on paper that has served more to stifle my creativity than help me in any way. It is an idea that I should have forcefully extracted, isolated, and strangled in its crib before it was capable of growing into a monster that would invite in its friends such as fear, depression, anxiety, frustration, and aversion. The idea of professional writing has left me smothered under the weight of its offspring, unable to put words to paper for fear of getting it wrong – or worse, getting it right.
The idea of writing didn’t just fly through my window and take root in my brain. The writing idea came from friends and family. There were always plenty of people in my family that wanted to make money from writing. One of them actually followed through and created a cookbook. But many of them talked about making money from writing.
After listening to members of my family, writing seemed like the ideal occupation for me. I had always loved to make up stories. Any time my mind wonders, I am probably imagining a story of some kind. And what could be better than actually making income from creating stories?
I’ll tell you. For me, actually trying to make income from making up stories has lead to fear of creating stories at all. All of the sudden they aren’t simple stories any more, they are something to be judged, torn apart, fretted over, and finally abandoned as inadequate. That has happened so often that it is almost impossible to start putting a story on paper any more. As soon as I try to put a story to paper, the feeling that it isn’t good enough assaults me. As I struggle to make the story good enough, I usually go over and over various parts to the point where it eventually is abandoned out of disgust.
Actually, the only successes I have had at creating stories were ones that were for myself that were to be used as background for larger stories.
Part of the problem is my aversion to the spotlight. To hear professional writers talk, it seems like they all want to be rock stars. They talk about how writers want to be rich and famous, create scripts that will have them dining with the stars, working on deals that put them in negotiations with studio heads, and generally being known around the entire world.
I don’t want the spotlight. I want to spend my time plodding around Queer Hill, watching television, playing games, and making up stories. If I ever feel the need to hobnob with anyone, I have two dogs and three cats that are more than willing to allow me to entertain them over a roast beef sandwich.
No, I have no intention of leading the writer’s life. That beast is already too big for me to deal with. The best I can hope for now is to starve it until it is in a state of weakness then smother it when it can’t fight back.
So I am going to consider this my declaration of independence from professional writing. I will write whatever I damn well want. I will write it for my own enjoyment. I will populate my stories with characters that I find interesting. I will write about things that please me. Any attempt to shine a spotlight in my direction will result in my turning away and snarling like the nocturnal, light averse being that I am.
If the writing life is something that you aspire to, good luck! As for me, I’ll be over here in the corner having fun with my stories.