Today is the first in my weekly series called Manifest Mondays, where I will chat exclusively about writing and the writing life.
What is the first thing you think of when someone tells you they are a writer by trade?
I know what I think of: a hunched body with bloodshot eyes (insert gender here), pounding feverishly at their typewriter, floating ghost-like amongst crumpled papers, a stack of books nearby, open, lined journals within reach, empty coffee cups and even more empty liquor bottles surround the desk they’re bent over in a room with one window facing the back garden to which they occasionally gaze out and towards wistfully.
I never saw myself in that role, even when I was saying I wanted to be a writer. It sounds and feels positively stifling to feed that romanticized view, to become the stereotype.
Writing – for me – has always been about creating worlds. I am a short fiction writer, so I get even less space than novelists do to tell my story. It’s a great exercise in restraint, lemme tell ya. I create these fantastically absurd worlds within my overarching theme of cinematic absurdism. I have an entire literary-like theory about it in my head, which I will share once I figure out what I want to say about it.
Anyways, as you know, I am in this purgatory of the transition period. It feels strikingly perpetual now, and it’s driving me plumb crazy. At first, it was nice, as I was able to catch my breath slow down and ease myself back into this life I left behind. Now, it’s bloody infuriating and I am on the edge of murder if I don’t get a steady job soon. The trend in my age bracket is to apply to everything under the sun but I am aiming for quality over quantity. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
You’d think I would have more time to write, but you’re wrong. I have even less time. I do write, though not as much as I used to. It’s mostly free writing and Morning Pages to get myself into the mindset. It’s been useful.
To be a professional writer, you need to sacrifice something when you walk down this path. What do you give up?
I am reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when I think about it:
Right now, I am stuck somewhere on the physiological level, because my financial needs are not being met. I’m grateful that I have the support of my parents. Like, more than you or they could ever know. Not every writer has that luxury, though. The writing life isn’t necessarily a triangle. I was simply using it as a graphical representation. A writer will have to give up and/or prioritize any one of Maslow’s levels over others, in order to do this thing we do.
If you have a family, writing will always take a backseat. If you are nurturing a relationship that could lead to a family, I guarantee writing will be your co-pilot, not your primary focus. If you don’t have a steady income, writing will not keep you warm at night.
It’s not easy being a full-time writer. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a goddamn liar. It’s not even up for discussion.
I feel like a caricature in the sense that I talk more about being a writer rather than actually writing. Not to say that I haven’t tried to submit my work to be published. Why the hell am I going down this path if not to be published and shared and dissected and loved?
To be forthright, I am drowning in rejections, which is more than likely contributing to my feeling like an overall failure. I know, I know; how many times was Harry Potter rejected before it was picked up? It would do wonders for my already fragile ego to say, “hey, I’ve been published here, here, and here. Buy my book because those places have already validated my worth as a writer.” Patience is a virtue but I’d slap that bitch silly if I had the chance.
Now, to my studio audience, is there anything holding you back from moving forward in your career? Let me know in the comments!