The writing life certainly brings with it a great many hardships. We writers face rejection, criticism, solitude, long hours of work for little pay, calloused fingers and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, back and eye problems, and, of course, the dreaded Writer’s Block. Also, only a tiny percentage of writers are successful enough to make a living doing what they love. Most writers need a “real” job, in addition to all the time spent perfecting their craft; essentially, most writers are working two full-time jobs. Sounds terrible, right?
Forget all that. The negative aspects we can save for another day. Let us for a moment discuss the joys of the writing life, shall we? Let us focus on the benefits of spending a life with words, the good that comes from your literary passion. Writing is splendiferous, is it not? Let us count the ways…
Writing makes us happy. When life is sucking out our soul through a tiny straw, when our love lives are in the toilet, when our family drives us crazy, when a jerk steals our parking spot, when we spill our coffee all over ourselves, when we can’t sleep, when we can think of nothing to take away the blues, there are always words, always stories. When we write, we are passionate, excited, energetic; when we write, we are euphoric. No drug brings more of a high than turning a nifty phrase. So we write, because it brings the joy, the inner-peace. Writing is fun. Writing is bliss. Writing is us.
Writers have good stories. We collect stories. Stories are our livelihood, and we love telling them. Our stories don’t even have to be true. Someone might ask, “What are you working on?” The answer, my friend, is a story, maybe a whimsical story about a young boy who discovers he could someday become the world’s greatest magician, or a story filled with hope about recovery from addiction, or a tale of a gruff-but-lovable serial killer, or even a funny little yarn about a gaggle of circus freaks who find romance during a stopover in Passaic, New Jersey. Our story could be as simple as a leaf changing color, but told so beautifully the audience can’t help but be enthralled. Writers collect stories like creepy old men collect ladies’ underpants. Oh yes, we’ve got stories. Just ask us.
Writers needn’t be properly educated. Now, of course, we all need some sort of education. We need to learn the basics. Still, when we want our work published, we needn’t be a Harvard graduate; we simply need to be a great writer. Our stories are often our résumé. If our words vibrate with passion and intensity, no one is going to care that we dropped out of community college because we wanted to spend more time playing Resident Evil and spooning with our soft and warm significant other. A talented writer’s work speaks for itself. We learn our craft by writing and reading; we often educate ourselves. Having a fancy degree is nice, but for a writer it isn’t always necessary. It’s the work that matters. We could create our greatest work while behind bars, having never even graduated from high school, making up for our lack of proper schooling with ferocity and life experience.
Writers have an easier time sparking conversation with an attractive stranger. Let’s suppose we approach someone intriguing and initiate a conversation. Inevitably, the stranger will ask, “What do you do?” We will respond, “I’m a writer,” and, more often than not, said stranger will perk up. “Really,” the stranger might say, with a sly smile. “That’s interesting.” Yes, it is interesting, certainly more interesting than saying, “I’m an accountant.” People want to know more about us, unless we happen to smell like last week’s dirty laundry. They want to know where we get our ideas. They sometimes fantasize about becoming a character in one of our stories. Writers may not actually have more success than accountants when it comes to scoring a date (I’ve yet to do any research on the matter), but there’s no doubt that saying you’re a writer is, at the very least, a great conversation starter.
Writers are needed. Our friends need us to look at their papers and check for errors. Our bosses need us to proofread their annual reports. Our mothers need us to write them long, wonderful, sweet messages inside their birthday and Christmas cards. We are often handed a piece of paper from a friend and told: “Hey, you’re a writer. Fix this for me!”
Writers aren’t good at anything else. Okay, maybe we’re good at a few other things, but really, what we do well is write. It’s our calling. We may be decent at many things, but only great with words. So we write. And we love every awful, wonderful moment.