I have a lot of doubts about becoming a writer. Each day I pick my daughter up from school I see the teachers, my potential peers, hard at work. I get emails from past students, asking for letters of recommendation and sometimes I check the college.edu/careers url of former offices. I do these things in part, because there’s so few markers along the path to becoming a writer. Where am I? Am I going the right way?
If you take a class there are exams to assess your progress. If you run a business there are profits to make sense of. With writing there’s not much.
Stephen King wrote:
If you’re not talented, you won’t succeed. And if you’re not succeeding, you should know when to quit. When is that? I don’t know. It’s different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it’s time you tried painting or computer programming.
When I was writing, but not willing to admit I was a writer, it was like this. Instead of pink slips it was unanswered emails.
Recently I’ve had some positive markers though.
Kevin Kelly tweeted:
Ramit Sethi wrote something similar. Strangers too have reached out. It feels great to receive compliments from people whose work you admire.
Beyond them there is also the encouragement offered by people like Jamie Rubin and Laura Vanderkam.
Once upon a time, I couldn’t write. My stories had no identifiable beginning, middle, or end. They- characters were carved out of thin cardboard. The language was in primary colors.
Vanderkam had similar thoughtsafter finishing her taxes.
In 2014, I spent most of my time working on projects that generated absolutely none of my 2014 income.
It takes time to build any skill. Writing seems like a basic one, we all do it, but to do it well takes a lot more work. This idea is a theme of my current work in progress and it’s nice to see it reinforced beyond my scope of research and how it relates to us all.