College reoriented my worldview over three years that this writing site helped captured in all of its radical flourish and sad nuance. Yet nothing truly prepares you for the working world and the realities of life. I think the “real world” is a convenient dichotomy that we hide behind, but like most stereotypes, it has some essence of truth.
The strangest part of working a full-time job is how much it focuses your priorities. As I job-hunted, I could barely pay a second thought to Storm Surge, the sequel-in-progress I’ve had on my plate for two years. Now, when I have less time than ever before, I spend more of it writing and editing than I ever did in all those months of college. In the irony of life, it had to work out this way.
When before fiction seemed the supplement to the true goal, now I realize that my books, short stories, and poems are the goal. Whatever gets me closer consumes the days away, yet the projects seem never-ending. Half a novel to rewrite, another to start sending out to agents, a new writing website, and placing my existing stories and poems to build my publication credits, which will lend momentum to the rest of the queue. I could dedicate a month and never finish half of it.
At this point, those of you who have stuck it out are saying: “What’s the point of this?” Well, like most of my posts, I offer a bit of folksy advice retooled in the context of the writing world. In this case, it’s tried and true.
Keep fighting the good fight.
Five simple words with no definition of “good,” as the multiculturalists will point out. I can’t tell you what the good fight is for you. But we writers as a group face adversity at every turn: self-doubt, barriers to entry, market saturation, the decline of print media, criticism, and the ever-present craving for vindication. Sometimes the mountain seems too steep to ever climb.
Yet, every once in a while, a bright spot shows through the clouds. An acceptance letter, a job offer, even something as simple as a compliment can keep the fire alive. The true test of a writer is that they will push through the gray periods. Why? To prove the doubters wrong, to make a voice heard in a chaotic. These desires drive me on, and you will find yours in time. They are the urges that keep you up late when you have work the next morning, that keep you in on the weekend with only a keyboard and potential.
After all, what is life if not to achieve? Defy the odds and succeed where so many others have turned away before. Nothing else offers the same satisfaction or potential as the image of success that nestles in each of our minds, waiting for the far off day.
Keep on fighting. And when your energy falls away, let the music and your relationships refresh you. To that end, feel free to share your own stories in the comments below. To the second end, I offer one of my own defiance jams:
I’ve been beat up, I’ve been thrown out
But I’m not down, I’m not down