Only 15 percent of writers can make a living at the profession. I heard someone tell me this once. I, of course, am convinced—along with the other 85 percent, that I will be in this category someday. The trouble is most advice comes from the 15 percent, or those pretending to be. They provide hope, but never discuss the bumps in the road. They never discuss their doubts along the way.
This leaves me wondering if other writers go through stages like I do. I work a full time job and insist on writing/promoting on the side. This basically means I work about seven days out of the week. I am not unique in this aspect. Some of the writers I admire do the same. In this business, I find there are few “successes.” Pulitzer prizes are rare, as is the New York Times bestseller. Five Star reviews boost to the ego, but then a rejection letter comes and outweighs even three awesome reviews.
Sometimes I wonder if writing therefore is worth the emotional effort. I also ponder where my life would be if I had never discovered this passion. What would I be doing now? Where would my ambitions lie? I, for one, believe if I hadn’t discovered my passion for writing in middle school, that it would have come out eventually. Because, when I question why I desire to be in this business, I often ask myself what is my life without writing? What if I woke up one day and stopped creating? Would I continue to live? Yes. Would I still be happy? Probably. But would my life be enriched? Would I feel it had value? I have a hard time believing it would.
Writers do not discuss their doubts. They never publicly admit they question their ability. It’s like admitting this is equivalent to saying we are worthless, that all the rejection letters were on to something. But here’s the kicker. No rejection letter has ever told me I suck and should just stop writing. Okay, that may be unrealistically harsh, but none has even hinted in this direction. I, for one, love to hear a big time movie star admit their insecurities. It tells me that uncertainty means nothing more than human nature. It means that I will survive the days of doubt. I will pick up the pieces of rejection and I will continue forward, because, eventually, I may be in the 15 percent. I just wish more of those writers would talk about the bumpy road to success. They didn’t wake up one day on the bestseller list, and maybe I never will get there. Maybe I will live selling my work to a few thousand. I need to remember the number of sales doesn’t value a work. There are plenty of horribly written pieces that have sold millions. Let me strive for greatness. And, in the days of doubt, I want to remember that I will always be a writer.