Lately, there has been some conversation among the Finnish writers about taking pride in being a writer. For many, writing fiction and/or fan fiction is something they don’t tell about to other people. Maybe it’s for the fear of being judged or because it feels like writing is sacred only when kept to oneself.
(I used to be familiar with the latter one, though with books. When I was 13 and read Twilight for the first time, I loved the book so much I didn’t want to tell about it to anyone – I was afraid the book would lose its appeal if someone I knew also thought it was awesome.)
As a 9-year-old kid, I wasn’t afraid to tell people I wanted to become J.K. Rowling when I grew up. I wrote stories, even a school play, and wasn’t afraid of letting the teacher read my texts out loud in class. Many in my class knew I was the writer in our class, many said I would be a writer in the future.
There was a slight shift when secondary school began. That’s when we pretty much stopped writing stories in class, and writing became only a hobby for me. But still, I didn’t stop me from sharing my passion for writing. All the fan fiction I wrote, I shared online. The few short stories I wrote, I let my teacher read and give feedback on them. When I was participating in NaNoWriMo, I let some of my friends know.
In other words, I wasn’t afraid of telling people I write.
However, today, as I’m pursuing a career as a writer, I do find it difficult to tell people I’m a writer. That I don’t just write, I’m actually a writer. That I am what I do.
Seeing Writing For What It Is
I think it’s because I feel people don’t see fiction writing as a full-time job.
Many seem to think that isn’t writing a book just about putting words down to create a story and poof! you have a ready-to-read novel? The only thing left to do is to pick a cover for your book, organize a release party and then wait for the sales numbers to go up?
Even I, as I started pursuing my career dream of being a writer one and a half years ago, didn’t know how much went into writing. Now, however, I know that if you really want to, you can make novel writing into a full-time job. All the planning, the research, the writing, editing – it takes time. It’s easy to put down hours after hours to writing and then editing a novel.
Writing books is a real job – but it feels like something only writers and publishers know about, and therefore it is hard to make someone believe writing can be made into a full-time job.
The other reason I have trouble telling people I want to write full-time is that they don’t see it as something you can support yourself with.
It’s what my parents told me when I was nine years old.
They probably have a point – it’s very possible, at least in the beginning, that you won’t become self-sufficient only by writing fiction but this doesn’t mean I cannot make writing into my job. Publishing a book can lead to other financially nice opportunities than working in café/as a cashier/a receptionist alongside writing. For instance, lecturing, visiting schools and libraries and other writing and reading related projects.
I’d much rather work with projects than that than doing something “just because I need the money”. At the same time I’m aware of the fact that it takes a moment to get that first novel published before the other opportunities can come into the picture.
Finding The Courage To Believe In The Dream
Most of all, I think why I’m nervous about telling people I’m a writer is because I’m wondering if I can make it.
There’s a difference between wanting something and being able to get it. Am I good enough to make it, to write a book a publisher wants to work on and make into a proper publishable novel?
And all those actions I’m planning on taking to become a writer: investing in writing software and an e-book reader, reading novels, reading books about writing – am I worth it, I notice myself wondering. Am I doing this, for real? Will it pay off? And…
What if it doesn’t?
By telling people I want to be a full-time writer is scary. It’s a vulnerable thing to say, to reveal your dream or passion for something.
This fear, however, proves that by talking or telling about it I’m doing the right thing. I’m actually facing my fear – and through that, I might actually manage to write a book someone wants to publish and/or read.
What drives me is the encouraging fact that I know writing is what I like doing best, it’s what I love to do. By finding the courage to tell other people that I’m a writer and this is what I aim to do the rest of my life, I might open new possibilities that otherwise wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t told about what I want to do in life.
And – I don’t know if I want to believe in the “even if it doesn’t pay off” way of thinking, but even if something would happen that would alter my writerly pursuit, I know that I’m at least letting myself pursue my dream and passion.
I do that by publishing my blog posts, my fictional short stories. But I also do that by telling more and more people I am a writer and want to be that full-time.
And that’s something I do find pride in.