When I was in the Army I was surrounded by no bullshit kinda guys. At one point during our tour in Iraq I told one of my NCOs that I wanted to be a writer. He’d never read anything I’d ever done, despite me offering, and he laughed in my face. “Writing is for people who’ve already done something. Lawyers and doctors. Those are the kind of guys that make it.” As a young man I took this to heart. I hedged my bets and had a whole string off jobs and almost careers over a decade that weren’t worth my time because they weren’t anything I really gave a damn about. Deep down I always wanted to write, and very little else.
True, doctors and lawyers would bring something to their writing table that a 21 year old veteran wouldn’t have, but on the flip side, I’d seen a whole world of shit they have no inkling of. Everyone has their own set of truths and experience that they wear around them like a safety blanket every time they write. It colors your work and makes it uniquely yours. The voice of a lawyer is not the voice of a veteran and a bouncer, but they can both tell awesome stories and reveal things about the world as they see it.
Writing is the only unified theme among writers. At the end of the day those who aren’t writing aren’t writers, and those who are writing are. It’s that easy. Zip it up, slap a label on it, and ship it to the land of truth. That doesn’t mean you’re a good writer, and it cretainly doesn’t mean if you publish something anybody will buy it. If you follow that passion though, eventually you can get there. Persistence is key in anything you want out of life. Don’t let anybody else tell you that you aren’t good enough. Keep writing, learn the language, and listen to the other writers. I’ve yet to run into one that didn’t tell me they had to claw their way out of non-writing obscurity like they were being birthed Alien style. (Will we dream, Ripley?)
I let other things get in the way, largely due to guys and gals like my NCO. People who told me that nobody makes it. One in a million that you’ll even sell a book. Everyone tries and fails in the arts. Well fine, then I’ll fail. No failure is as absolute as the attempt that never starts. The same is true of you. If you really want to be a painter, dancer, actor, or director, then don’t let the nay sayers get the best of you. The path to accomplishment is littered with the bones of those too scared or lazy to get off their ass and do something. Don’t end up in that place. You’re either running to your dreams, or you’re running away.