Aspiring to be a writer is hard. There is seemingly no end to the rejection and self-doubt that accompany your own words. It’s hard to convert your own thoughts into something entertaining or informative. You will never be able to please everyone with your writing. There will always be someone who doesn’t even like your writing. It is also one of those things that is hard to make money from. Writers who want to express themselves for their own art and keep the dignity of their own writing will often not be paid, or at least go long periods of time without being paid.
Right out of college, I randomly applied to a bunch of companies seeking positions like “web content specialist” or “blog writer”. I figured they might be a lucrative way for me to make money off of my English degree. As it transpired, these companies want people with degrees and years of experience in business or marketing to write things on their websites and not a 22-year-old who likes to write about her feelings. I now see that not getting those jobs was for the best. The only thing that would make me not a writer was if I no longer had time to write because I simply want to write.
I consider myself a writer even if no one wants to hire me. Random companies that I applied to right out of college do not get to define me. They may not think I have enough experience to be a writer but they have not seen me sitting on my bed at four in the morning with itchy eyes, bloodshot from staring at a screen for hours. My fingers stiff from clamoring away at a keyboard. They have not seen me crying silent tears on a riverbed in my hometown while I wrote down my worst thoughts and wondered why someone didn’t love me. Moving my hand across paper while words spill out of me like water out of an overflowing glass the only way for me to possibly feel any better. I wouldn’t put that on a resume, but that is why I write.
I write to organize my own thoughts or to express my opinion, not those of anyone else. I write to fabricate a story that entertains yet hides within it facets of my own truth. So that I can breathe again when my worst anxieties are holding me hostage in my own bedroom. I do it so a girl a thousand miles away can read my experiences and realize that she is not alone. I am a writer because I have to be. Because I am doing it everyday because I need a way to get my thoughts out in a tangible way. Because I choose to make less money in order to have time to write than to be a miserable and unfulfilled corporate drone. I do it to live and breathe with clarity, not to write someone else’s words.
I went through different phases where I wanted to pursue other paths. For a time I wanted to be a teacher among other things. The truth is that any of the other hats I have tried on do not fit as well. It took me a while in my college years to realize that I was meant to be a writer. In retrospect, though, there have been clues scattered in my youth that would reassure me of such. I still have a “book” I wrote about a lost dog and a girl named Michelle (my childhood best friend). It’s tucked away in a storage bin in my parent’s basement, just a few pages of computer paper and jagged staples haphazardly holding them together. I also still have a copy of a 4th grade poem that I was proud to say was published in my hometown’s newspaper. When I was in my early teenage years, I was extremely introverted and wrote an embarrassingly large amount of Harry Potter fan-fiction, escaping the monotony of high school for a world inside my own head. One of the reasons I hated school so much was because I have such a hard time doing assignments that I don’t feel passionate about. I also simply hated math because my mind works in words and not numbers. My mind is forever thinking in words and I have the easiest time expressing myself through articulation of language and thought. I also liked the idea of being good at drawing or painting, but my mind can’t really visualize what it can express through words.
I don’t really think a person can be told what they are based on a current job or occupation. Just because someone has to do other things rather than pursue their passion full time to support herself doesn’t make her any less what she truly wants to be. We define ourselves. If we didn’t, everyone would be miserable.