A struggling writer is a species that is dismissed by most, scorned by some and viewed pathetically even by those closest to him/her. The question that everybody actually is asking without saying as much is “Is it really a career choice?” The problem with writing is; everybody thinks they can do it and do it well. No matter that the person may not have read anything more than the Harry Potter series and only because they were so talked about. Writing is an art that almost everybody lays claim to so much so that it is less and less regarded as a career choice and more of a boastworthy habit. The following are few of the most inane things I hear or am asked on a regular basis
1. “Everybody can write”
Not everybody says it but all certainly assume it. Yes everybody can write because anybody may put to paper the depressing, sombre, hopeful, saccharine, poignant, cautionary tales, thoughts, experiences and feeling. Yes everybody thinks they can write because oh what is writing but replacing simple words for fancy sounding ones( I have had so many proudly thrust in my face) never mind if they make a coherent sentence or not, so yes , you are absolutely right, everybody can write.
2. No, what do you actually do for a living?
You see writing for many is nothing but a respectable, intellectual hobby to possess not a noteworthy career, especially in a culture where the venerated foursome of law, engineering, medicine and banking hold the bragging rights and blessings of the society. The mere notion that you are struggling to make a career out of it is scoff worthy. Stringing sentences is what one does in their free time not with their whole day.
3. Do you write for (Insert any big newspaper/ magazine name?)
God help you if your answer is a ‘NO’ or you give out a name that is a new venture or a digital platform and not a traditional well-respected news or media organisation. You’d be surprised at how many people consider themselves well read and informed only because they have NYT or The Guardian app on their phones. Prod them a little further on their favourite columnist or one of the smaller EU nation’s immigration policy and you’ll get the real picture.
Why don’t you try your hand at something else?
Why don’t you try your hand at withholding unsolicited, unhelpful advice? Why don’t you try and not be just another cog in the corporate wheel, your career nothing short of a societal construct of what a profession ought to be so that any semblance of a struggle is termed failure? No, Seriously. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so infuriating.
4. What are you writing about?
Anything, everything, nothing but I am certainly putting this unsavoury moment into words. It’s the most dreaded question. The question for a lot of struggling writers leads to many moments of self doubt. No matter what your answer is, the response from your interrogator usually is “Hasn’t it been written about already?” followed by a topic which has been written about ad nauseam. Most of the time it’s not even a genuine line of enquiry because chances are the person will have no idea what you are talking about or turn to their phones even as you ‘re midway explaining your next project.