I mulled over whether or not to make this post because it involves talking about a comment conversation I had on deviant art. This is something I consider an important topic though and now I have a bit more time on my hands to properly articulate it. So I figure; fuck it, I will.
This kid I recently watched posted the following:
My brother and I were discussing self-publication and money through the internet after I brought up someone mentioning I should sell my writing, and again, I know I’m young, but… i’m really damn tempted to go for a self-published book. like hard-cover. not just online
but god knows it will never sell and never happen… ugh, but im so tempted. i dont know what to do. why would anyone buy it when no one will read it for free?
I see this pop up in my notifications and, you know, I relate. Writers will have these thoughts. So I decided to write them a little comment, offer some motivation from someone who’s a bit older and more centered, because teenage me would be flipping her shit way harder than this kid was when it comes to self-doubt. I was a fragile child.
This is the comment I posted. As you can see, this was a few days ago:
This is the soundest possible advice I felt I could give. Hey, I’m the first to admit I’m no expert and I’m struggling a lot keeping up with all my stuff right now (could you guys tell? :P). While I was giving this kid this advice I was still fighting to get my SOF post done so I could move forward with Shadows Rise; that’s a different post, though, so moving on.
Basically, I told this kid to get a book ready before worrying about all the stuff. And the reason I said that is… It’s the opposite of what I did. I worried about ALL the stuff and guess what? My book’s not done. I’m just getting back to a point where I’m comfortable just focusing on my writing again because worrying about the ‘what ifs’ really messed up my head. And I’m not a 14/15-year-old. I should know better.
The main point I was trying to make, though, was ‘don’t decide you failed before you even try’. Because thinking things like “no one will read it” is going to hurt you a lot. I think that about 5 times a day. I think that about the Shadows Series all the time. Despite the fact people already do read the unedited and
shitty effortless casually-written stuff we do now, I still think to myself sometimes that people won’t want to read the rewritten ‘proper’ version of it. Or worse; that we won’t actually get it done, which is a very valid fear tbh. We’ve been RPing this one RP for five years or close to that.
Is it going to keep me from moving forward? Fuck no! Am I not going to invest my time on this because people might not read it? NO! Heck, no one reads RPs and it didn’t stop me investing over half a decade of my life in one. And people have read it!
If I’m self-doubting-myself out of motivation then I’ll take a break, I’ll think of something else, but I’m not gonna let myself go into the ‘maybe this isn’t worth it’ line of thinking.
As for the kid, we went back and forth some more. They answered me basically saying they are insecure offering feedback, they don’t feel they know enough about writing, so on… I give them a bit more encouragement, I reiterated the whole “worry about the writing first” point I was trying to make. And that ends that conversation.
A little bit later they post another journal with the following:
As I’ve figured out what I need to do, I’ll finish this draft, edit, and publish.
But I am terrified of the commitment. I’ve never been able to tell myself a draft is good and move on. One thing goes wrong, and I go back to square one. I don’t know how to force myself to stay on this draft, because I hate it already.
I’m afraid of the result. I’m sick and tired of working hard for participation medals. I don’t want to do this if there’s no guarantee of reward. I’ll work for months with no one buying it or fluttering an eyelash. How in the world do I get people to buy my writing when no one will read it for free?
I’m scared and I don’t know how to get past it.
I didn’t answer this one because I didn’t know how. It seriously worried me. Not that they’re hating their own writing. I get that part; I do it too. I’ve hated my first chapter so much, despite other people reading it and liking it, and I still kinda hate it. I may never be able to stop hating it and I’ll just have to move past it at some point, somehow.
It’s the “I don’t want to this if there’s no guarantee of reward” part that worried me. This sort of expectation worries me. And my urge was to comment on that journal and just say “hey, tough fucking luck, kid. There are NO guarantees in life”. There are no guarantees no matter what you do. You’d think that’s a ‘starving artist’ thing only, but it isn’t. My brother has a fucking Doctorate in biology and he’s just as shit out of luck as I am where it comes to employment opportunities right now. If you go into anything looking for a safe career path, you’re gonna have a hard time.
And writing is tough. Writing is an ungrateful amount of work that people just don’t see you do and therefore give you no credit for. The people who are insane enough to suffer through do it because they have to. They have to because they love it way too much.
And that’s the thing; I write out of love of writing in itself. Because if you’re a writer… That’s just who you are. It’s a part of you. Whether you want to make a life out of it, or just do it for yourself; same difference. The joy of writing is the only guaranteed reward.
Everything else is work upon work upon more god damn work.
And don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Because no matter how hard shit gets in life; I fucking love to write. I’m a god damn writer through and through.If I pride myself in anything, this is it.
So I didn’t answer that kid’s journal. Because what was I going to say really? What could I say that wouldn’t sound utterly cruel at this point? So I kept to myself and now I’m making this blog post at five in the morning. Because I needed to say this.
In contrast to this kid, another deviant artist I chatted with in comments allowed me to go on about how I spent six years; six years, working on this RP series obsessively as if it was my life’s mission. For no pay, no guaranteed reward, no gratification other than creating this insane story with an equally insane group of awesome people, and they told me they were jealous. That they wanted this in their life; something you’re so dedicated to that you work you ass off for it because you just have to. And from a writing standpoint, yeah, we have it pretty great and that writer should be jealous; it’s a pretty awesome feeling. I appreciate that. I’m broke as fuck, but I’m still proud of what we created and are still creating.
And look, I’m not calling out this kid; why I only screenshotted my own comment, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to succeed or that you shouldn’t want to make money off your writing. If it turns out one day HBO wants to buy our shit, I’ll probably be all over that. After all, Game of Thrones can’t go on forever and #ValcrestDidItFirst (in-joke, don’t mind me). What I’m saying is you’ll be generally happier if you love what you do and that’s why you do it.
It’s 5:33 in the morning and I should have been asleep hours ago, I’m not sure this post still even makes sense… It seemed like a good idea when I started writing it.
So I’mma go to sleep and after I wake up tomorrow; whenever that turns out to be, I’m gonna update you guys on some of my projects and try to brave that NITWIT post I’ve been struggling with.