My friend and fellow writer Arin Greenwood once said in interview that people who want to write should “have realistic expectations about what the writing process is like.”
No, Arin. Nooooo. It’s like tattoos: You never admit to people considering getting one how much the damn things hurt.
Seriously, how can you give honest advice about writing? Because this is what that sounds like:
“Be prepared for lousy pay, more work than you can imagine, and never really being ‘off the clock’ like normal people. And make no mistake, you won’t be a normal person ever again. Because you’re going to love writing just enough to do it, but then when you get to do it – once you have to do it if you want to eat – you will hate it. You’ll still love it, but you will also hate it.
“You will organize your spices instead of writing. You will start a jigsaw puzzle instead of writing. You will take on new home improvement projects weeks before a major deadline.
“Your friends will never understand why you’re struggling to write. ‘Just sit down and do it and get off the internet’ they will tell you, not realizing that advice is as useful as giving a cat a tuxedo and screaming ‘WELL? PUT IT ON!’
“You will find yourself in cold dark moments of despair, aware that your friend just won a Pulitzer while working full time and raising a child, and you’re all of a sudden middle-aged and you don’t have any assurances that you can even finish your next chapter and if you do you damn sure know it’s not going to win a Pulitzer.
“You will hate yourself for not writing when you know you should be and you will learn to ignore the way your stomach does a slow roll to the left when someone asks you, ‘hey, how’s your book coming?’
“You will wake at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat because you realize if you die, not only is your internet browsing history remarkably suspect, people are going to read your half-finished manuscript and realize you are a fraud, a total charlatan and a waste of your publisher’s energy and time – and then they’ll pity you for ‘losing your edge.’
“And then, despite all that, despite feeling perfectly trained for a stone age where you didn’t have to possess social media skills that only a modern two-year-old could reasonably be expected to have, despite all THAT, you won’t ever be able to do anything else again.
“It’s a vicious cycle, worse than alcoholism, worse than heroin addition, worse than anything, because no one looks at an alcoholic and says, ‘What are you complaining about? you’re so lucky’ and you want to throttle them because sweet jumping baby Jesus, this is not luck. This is a goddamn disease you’re fighting as you trudge across a battlefield of misplaced modifiers, late nights, and self-doubt.”
So, no, young writers, don’t listen to Arin.
Writing is great. It’s easy. It’s fun. You’ll love it. I pinky-swear.