I’m really going to try to do this thing, come hell or high water. Be a writer, that is. Hopefully you can disregard my often-poor grammar usage. I honestly feel that there’s only one thing I want to do, that I need to do, in order to be myself and achieve success in this increasingly competitive world we live in. And that’s writing.
Of course, it’s an enormous privilege to be able to be yourself and do what you love for a living, and it’s not one everyone can have. Do we really believe that the woman who empties the trashcans out of our classrooms/workspaces is being herself and doing what she loves? I doubt it. More than likely, she’s just trying to get by, pay her bills, be able to buy her grandchildren new reindeer sweaters for Christmas.
The ability to do what you love is far from something we are all entitled to. None of us are as special as we would like to believe. NO, you aren’t, the one who reads this and thinks, “Oh but I am.” Shut up, no you aren’t. I don’t care how many As you made or how many library awards you’ve won. We were all victims of the special snowflake curse but love, it’s time to get on with it. Or inject yourself with malaria.
I can’t very well sit on the floor in front of my teal vintage trunk (read: my coffee table/workspace and something I picked up at the thrift store) and just assume that I can have everything I want – a prosperous writing career, financial independence, Viggo Mortensen, a closet full of vintage 1960s fashion, bigger boobs etc. It’s a very Millennial way of thinking, so I’ve heard from countless older adults. We all believe that we are deserving of the things we want; that the work we have put in, the internships we hustled to get, merit us the jobs and careers we desire. You know what? We do deserve them. But dammit, it’s going to take a while to get there. To arrive. To feel successful, the way our role models and people we admire are.
I think it’s incredibly easy to believe that success has been a flawless lavender-scented journey for everyone that we admire. Yes, we all know that success takes time. But what does that mean, exactly? From reading my favorite writers, both in print and online, I might automatically think that they were just born writing the way I want to write. Except when you factor in that little 10,000 hours rule – that it takes that much time to become excellent at anything. I feel disheartened when I read about so-and-so ‘writing stories when I was but six-years-old!’ and insert-name-here has ‘known I wanted to be a writer since I was 11!’ I’m over here in the corner like “hey I didn’t know I wanted to be that until I practically threw myself at the idea because I hated school so much and failed a math class…but can I be a part of the club anyway, kay thanks’.
This age of social media and blogging has brought about a new disease that also makes success seem stupidly easy to attain from the perspective of a reader. Posturing, the art of making it look like you are either having the time of your life or are eons more successful than you actually are, has swept hordes of 20-somethings and inflicted our generation. It’s like showing your life as a Pinterest board, filled with scented candles in mason jars and blood-red tulips scattered about your cobblestone walkway where your fluffy goldendoodle lounges smugly, revelling in its f**king cuteness. All while you are uploading your photos from the South of France where you wrote your bestseller and made endless amounts of passionate love to Viggo Mortensen (this is all definitely not my fantasy). Of course, some people really are as brilliant and talented as they appear to be and were signed to major publishers at the age of 19. It’s fine. I don’t want to push you off a cliff into a pit of sharks that have Karl Lagerfeld’s face on them, or anything.
But in all honesty, we are all guilty of posturing. Who really wants to discuss painful things at the expense of their own image? By image, I mean the persona many people craft in order to appeal to a certain audience, keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak. It’s not like your 3000 Facebook friends or Twitter followers need to know about your bi-weekly hypnosis sessions or how you revenge-taped maxipads all over your ex-boyfriend’s car. But having so many ways to showcase ourselves has created an aura of falseness, and it’s detrimental. It leads others to believe that we are actually pretty perfect and haven’t had to sweat over a keyboard night after night to write an article that we didn’t get paid for, or whatever scenario you want to it to be. It makes it appear as if we are all living in a cupcake-filled Utopian universe where the majority of us were created in the image of Jackie Onassis and you were left with the remnants of Michael Jackson’s nose job.
As a writer (I’m not aspiring to be one, I am calling myself one) I have had some very minor successes, and boatloads of rejections. Actually, calling them rejections is generous, they were just flat-out silences. Digital media makes it easy to just click the trash can icon and disperse of submissions, quick and easy. No explanation, no response is your response. Or when a publication decides to take your pitch, then when you submit the actual article to them…crickets. Yeah, it’s not the happiest I have ever felt, getting rejected/ignored. But I will be damned if it doesn’t steel my resolve to get published and to write better. Because people who are good at what they do, eventually get noticed. In the words of Steve Martin, “be so good they can’t ignore you.”
I hope this diatribe isn’t sounding like a rant for raising self-esteem and trying to make everyone a winner or something. It’s just rather astounding to me how success is portrayed as ‘OH it was nothing, just fell into my lap one day, what was I to do?’ and then perceived as if it is something that happens randomly and only to people who have the right boxes checked. I truly believe that the work is part of what makes the success so sweet. Without doing all the work we don’t see, how would the person be so…good? Actually, being great would be better. I don’t think I’m good, yet. I would like to be, someday soon. I would like to be one of those successes who is able to make a living off her passion. That would be pretty cool.