How did you know, people often ask me, that you wanted to be a writer? These are people who have tried their hand at writing and enjoyed some success. But fear holds them back from chucking the job that pays the bill, uncertainty stops them from devoting all their time to writing. They look so hopefully at me, eager for any tiny crumb of comfort that I can offer them.
I know that I loved reading books from a very young age. I read anything that I could find, even the old and tattered copies of Reader’s Digest that we owned. I was always reading, very often the same books again and again.
Somewhere along the way, I began to dream of writing. But writing was difficult and dreaming so much easier. So, for a long time that’s what I did. During my days at college I began to write poetry and short stories. And then, a story was published in the children’s pages of a newspaper. All of a sudden being a writer seemed like something that I could actually do.
I wish I could say that this was the moment when I knew that I had to be a writer. But the real, shiny hard knowing only came years later. By then several of my stories had been rejected. Every single rejection depressed me and I went around for a few days convinced that I could never hope to be a writer.
But…I always went back to dreaming up another story. And I always wrote that story. I sent it off too, to magazines and newspapers, hopeful that this one would find a home and appreciation.
That was the moment of knowing what I wanted to do. I wanted to think up stories and I wanted to write them and send them out into the world. And I wanted my stories to give people the kind of joy books had always given me. And if facing rejection was part of the deal, I was willing to accept it.
If something gives you joy, then that’s what you should be doing.
If you find yourself willing to embrace it, warts and pus filled pimples and all, then that’s what you should be doing.
It’s as simple as that.