About three years ago I definitively decided that I had no interest in pursuing a corporate career; specifically, a legal career.
I decided that I would see out the law degree that I’d already carved two years out of until its very end, but then, jump off the corporate bandwagon and pursue the unstable and shaky path of artistry, specifically, the path of novel writing.
Actually, to be perfectly lucid, back then, upon deciding that a career of suits and ties, insipid business people and 9-5′s wasn’t one to my taste, I didn’t know that I wanted to become a novelist. In uninteresting fact, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, a motivational, wuru guru person who’d run around like a crazy person, spitting the teachings of Buddha and Lao Tzu and Arthur Schopenhauer.
I shot down that idea pretty quickly though. I realised that the stuff I wanted to talk about and write about – the stuff that I wanted to live – would be better communicated through fiction, as opposed to through the workings of an impersonal business model. And so, I decided, almost out of nowhere, that I would write books to express the stories pealing inside of my head.
A most natural progression.
Anyway, now that I’ve unearthed a very specific passion of mine, now that I’ve figured out exactly what it is that I love to do – which is to write – I’ve hit a fork in my internal world.
Because you see, my dear blogging friends, unlike a corporate career, which is notoriously lived on a ladder, a sturdy ladder that’s cleanly cut, clearly defined, and relatively speaking, easily accessible, whose only destination is a lonely death at least mild success and perpetual stability, the career of a writer is, as most of you will probably know, not such a stable one.
You can’t simply roll out of bed, jump on your pushbike and pedal yourself to the office so to collect your fortnightly, regular, reliable paycheck.
Like an entrepreneur, the artist’s path isn’t already mapped. There’s no standard methodology to follow that will amass you success. There is little certainty to be drawn, generally. And there is no generally applicable recipe that will guarantee that you’ll make a living.
Whence springs the problems of any artist:
How does one maintain the energy to ‘follow their dreams’ – so to speak – on such a rickety, fragile and volatile path?
In my case, I’ve come to a stage where I’ve finished a few manuscripts. I’ve one that I’ve reworked over 15 times that’s currently making the rounds of any literary agent who’ll give me the time of day.
But like our natural resources, literary agents, as well as publishing houses, are finite. Exhaustible. There might come a time when my book, an element of me that contains my heart and my blood my soul and remnants of my poop, has done all that it can, and still failed to woo and shampoo the cockles of an agent’s imagination.
So then, where does one draw the line and say simply, finally: “Maybe I’m just not good enough? Maybe I should just be ‘realistic,’ about my ‘future’?”
How does one balance their hopes to reveal success in the face of such hopeless odds?
How does one keep their passion alive, their flair for their love alive, in the face of such forlorn possibility?
For me, this is the biggest pain that lives inside of pursuing a writing career. There are no guarantees, and yet, failure doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve failed, for there is no definite good like there is no definite bad. There are only opinions. There are only perceptions. There are only tastes.
And ultimately, your successes, like your failures, depend largely on luck.
I suppose, well, what I keep trying to tell myself, is that you’ve got to write for the love of writing; you’re motivation has to stem from inly felt passion, a hunger to express yourself – period.
Because, as I’ve rationalised it, if it doesn’t, and you start basing your worth on the success that you do or do not see – you’re gonna have a terrible, terrible time.
For being hit by rejection’s banging hammer, over and over, is sure to knock the wind out of you if you start believing that you are your rejections.
If your life’s general worth becomes suspended over the chasm of external validation, there leaves only room to fall – hard, fast, and painfully.
Alternatively, if you’re writing for you, and for you alone, or rather, if your love for writing, or your art, stems from you, and from you alone, then it is much easier to nurture, to keep alive – it is much easier to hold off from saying: “Maybe I’m not good enough.”
For the only person you’ve to be good enough is looking back at you in the mirror.