There are times where being a writer sucks. In fact, tell me when I get to the good part. You struggle your whole life to fight for an idea that needs validation from someone in a position of authority to succeed. It’s nearly impossible for writers to earn a living and by that I mean earn a mediocre living wage so we can live in some of the most expensive cities in the world. You can’t get a job because just about every job feels unfulfilling compared to writing. In essence one cannot get a job because they would lose their will to keep on writing. That’s where society’s values are at. And don’t pretend that people actually give a shit about your ability to write. I don’t think I’ve met anyone in a position of power who didn’t think they could write what I wrote themselves or better yet; pay their assistant or intern to do it. Writers are about as close to bottom of the barrel as it gets. Hiring managers complain that their applicants can’t write an e-mail and then proceed to shun any applicant who has the competence to write a complete sentence because there’s some overachieving extrovert who has better people skills. It’s a circular firing squad.
I’ve been told that I’m a hater. I’ve been told that I’m self-centered and don’t care about the feelings of others. Such statements are ludicrous in and of themselves because if they were true I would quit writing altogether as the only reason that I would really want to write would be so that I could boost my own ego at the expense of others. Real writers don’t do that sort of thing. Internet trolls and right-wing bloggers do that stuff. It’s heinous and morally reprehensible, so expect it to be a part of the 2016 Republican Party platform. If you believe the right-wing lie about makers vs. takers though writers would be the worst offenders as most of us can’t afford to pay our bills, can’t afford health insurance, and depend on government services to be doing things that corporations should be paying us for. The issue isn’t makers vs. takers at all. If it were writers would be sitting on the upper triage of society along with teachers, engineers, architects and construction workers. We’re the people who really make shit. Yet, most writers are at the mercy of corporate America and we get screwed every time. Our skills are de-valued for reasons passing understanding while those who prop up said corporations decry America’s moral decay. Would anyone know that the 19 Kids and Counting guy molested underage girls if it weren’t for some guy at Gawker? Journalists are viewed as parasites, but it’s their job to keep people in power honest because passive voters sure as hell aren’t doing it.
The sad thing about our society is that, at its core, it’s a system of oppression. Malcom X was right after all. If you need an example of this look no further than the difference in perception between men and women. When I tell a guy I’m a writer the first thing he says, almost without fail, is: well, I don’t imagine that pays very well. Hey, guess what? Not only do I not care what you think, but money is not the sole reason people do things, it is however one of the greatest corrupting factors in human history second only to organized religion. When I tell women that I’m a writer they get intrigued. Why? Because women are almost always right. Writers add value to society if for no other reason than we entertain everyone else. Life would be miserable without entertainment and that is exactly what we provide. The other thing about being a writer is that you either need to promote yourself or own your own business if you want to have any earned income at all. The only thing that intrigues women more than creativity is the allure of an independent man who works for himself. The problem that most writers have though is poor social skills. This is why I’ve always fit in with creatives; my social skills have been piss poor. Since being diagnosed with Asperger’s however I’ve made self-improvement my number one goal. Since social interaction is the number one thing that is affected in life by Asperger’s it’s the one thing that I have spent more time pouring over than anything else.
This has been, for the most part, a pretty negative indictment of society. I don’t say these things because I want to drag people down and the last thing I want to do is drag other writers down. I say these things because a lot of times people are part and parcel to a system of oppression without even knowing that they themselves are the oppressors. Think about that for a second. I was listening to a podcast about a guy who spent over a decade in prison for murder. He had an awakening in prison when he started reading books on philosophy. He started questioning whether people were good or bad. He observed that the guys in the maximum security prison had their own system of rationalization for what they did and often continued doing: hurting people. It’s a messed up thing to think about, but psychologically it makes sense. Regardless of our position socially or otherwise we seek to rationalize our actions to satisfy our inner needs. This is what I think businesses across America do every day. They rationalize their behavior under the guise of doing some social good. Think about Mitt Romney’s entire 2012 Presidential campaign. His entire argument for being a good President was he knew who to hire and who to fire. Not once did he talk about the social efficacy of his decisions. During the Iowa Caucuses Romney played up the idea that he had somehow created jobs by being an investor in various companies. If such a rationale were true we’d all be job creators.
What it all boils down to is why you do what you do. If you’re writing for fame or fortune, for prestige or compliments do yourself a favor and get out now. These are myths that couldn’t be more untrue. I can’t tell you how many people think they can create the next Twilight series. I get pitched this stuff every day and my reaction is almost universal: if it was as easy as you say it is then everyone would be doing it. Writing prose isn’t hard. It doesn’t take all that long to learn if you have any vocabulary skills and learning the rules of grammar isn’t that hard either. What is difficult is writing good prose. What’s even harder is writing good prose that other people want to read.