There are few career choices as authentic as that of a writer. It requires a passion that is fueled almost entirely by one’s own internal motivation. In the early years, that period when development occurs, when style emerges, when a genre is chosen, the writer operates with little feedback and with almost no social validation. Writing is not a career that appears to have substance to the non-writer. Parents do not often rally behind their child’s desire to be the next Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling. Perhaps some do from time to time, but not in the same way they might support other pursuits.
Consider a child who has a passion for helping others. They might select the field of medicine, or verbalize their intent to pursue social work. These desires are connected to areas that have specific training that lead to specific job titles. Even an aptitude for number counting can mean a respectable career in accounting or finance. Consider the natural athlete or musician. Regardless of the statistics against fame, parents will supply the instruments, the lessons, the rehearsal, the recitals and spend countless weekends at youth sporting events. The child who wishes to be a fiction writer, however, is often coached to select some other way to “make a living.” They are guided, with the best intentions, to find a more legitimate source of income for their writing passion such as journalism or teaching. I’ve seen children spend thirteen years playing a sport for thirty hours a week in pursuit of a passion for sports, while enthusiastic and gleeful parents watch at full attention. I’ve seen children labor over homework, science books and resume building for a future place in Med School while pushed, supported and perhaps even pursued by their parents throughout the journey. A child with love for fiction writing has few trophies for validation and receives only slightly weary nods to support their dreams.
Yet those with the passion for telling a story seldom lose that desire.
Writing is authentic. It requires a form of perfection before we experience the cheering crowds and at times it requires public validation before parental pride. It’s authentic because regardless of support or accolades the writer continues to write in his journal and she continues to pen her fabricated worlds. Writers pursue their search for the perfect combination of words to express the life themes they see and wish to examine and to have others examine. A new baseball player can feel the social validation each time they get in the batter’s box, each time their glove finds the ball, each time they touch a base. The would-be doctor can sense her future with each A on a science exam, and each time her parents proudly announce – “yes, she is very smart and plans to attend Med School.” The would-be writer has fewer places for validation. An English assignment here and there, perhaps a writing contest where only one or two people will ever know what the “readers” thought of their labor of love. But writing comes from an authentic place – the absence of these things seldom extinguishes the desire to tell the story.
There is no Hollywood or Bollywood for the would-be novelist. No place to travel where we can be surrounded by others working on this particular dream. No opportunity to “try out” for a best-seller. The place the writer returns to is the same place where the passion began – we return to our imagination. Inside our minds and hearts with that creative voice – our internal Muse – who keeps us company, who inspires, who urges us to write again and again.
Perhaps now though there is a place for us. Perhaps we have our own – be it virtual – Hollywood. Perhaps that place is right here in the blog-a-sphere. A community of like-minded folks reaching others solely through the written word. A place to follow and be followed. A place for try-outs, for ideas, for suggestions. A place less focused on “making money” and more focused on the art of what we so passionately pursue. Here there may not be the roar of the crowd when we hit a home run. Proud families may not hoist us upon their shoulders for our truthful words, and there are no roses for our brilliant performances. Here there is only the silent validation of a “like” button. Here there is only the satisfaction of a report card that reads, “Congratulations X number of people are following your words.” It may not be the same as an acceptance letter to Med school or a million dollar Major League contract. It may not be a role in an upcoming blockbuster – but for the writer, it is more than they have had and it is enough to make the time worthwhile.
Writing is an authentic career. It comes from someplace deep within, someplace honest, someplace where the truths of the real world are examined in journeys through fictitious ones. The writer has their own trophies of the pursuit. There are no “game” balls here and no shiny golden statues. Instead, we have stacks of old notebooks and journals, we have expended pens and our cascade of Word files. Those things are enough. They create their own type of pride. They are a testament to our improvement and our tenacity.
Writing is an authentic career. The passion exists even when the source cannot be located. It is knowing that we will always speak in the writer’s voice even when we believe that no one is listening.