Everyone else gets to choose what they want to do with their lives. What about writers? Did we choose this life or did it choose us?
WHO MADE THE CHOICE?
I don't believe anyone chooses to be a writer. I believe writers write because they can't do otherwise. They may not want to write, but it hurts if they don't.
We don't choose to be a writer.
Writing chooses us.
And the bad part is... it didn't ask our permission. It didn't care if we were interested. It didn't stop to consider that maybe, just maybe, we might wanna do something else with our lives.
Like... anything but write.
Because, as we all know... writing is torturous. It's self-inflicted torture. A friend sarcastically asked me once, "John, why don't you ritualistically cut yourself?" I told him, "I don't have to. I'm a writer." And he nodded, as if that made perfect sense.
I came home from school one day with a black eye. My mom asked me if a bully had beaten me up. I explained, "No. I'm a writer. I beat myself up." And she nodded, as if that made perfect sense.
AN EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY CURSE
Whether we like it or not, this is our lot in life. It's who we are. It's what we do. But make no mistake... we didn't choose it. It chose us. And, for better or for worse, we're stuck with it.
Unfortunately... everyone else in our lives is stuck with it, too.
If we think it sucks being a writer... imagine how bad it must suck to be married to us. Or, to have us as adult children still living in the basement. I don't pity us half as much as I pity those who live with us. They've been given a burden far greater than our own.
It's easy for us. All we have to do is sit, staring at the keyboard, crying in our coffee. But, it's different for them. They have to stand by helplessly and watch. They have to maintain some semblance of hope that all this staring at the screen and pulling our hair out and falling asleep on the kepboard is actually going to produce something worthwhile.
WE DON'T HAVE A CHOICE
The problem is... we're not convinced that all our pain and suffering will amount to anything either. The difference is... we don't have a choice.
We have to keep writing.
Because it's who we are.
It's what we do.
Regardless of how long it takes or how much it distracts us from our friends and family. If we gave our jobs as much attention as we give our writing, we'd be the CEO by now.
But, we're not the CEO. We're not even a shift leader.
Because we can't be bothered with trivial things like work.
We have to write.
It's who we are. It's what we do.
Even if we didn't choose it.
I remember my mom telling me a story about a Scorpion and a Frog. She said the scorpion asked the frog to carry him across the river. The frog refused because, "Once we're out in the water, you'll sting me and I'll drown." The scorpion assured the frog, saying, "I would never do such a thing, for if I stung you, I would drown, as well." The frog was convinced by the scorpion's logic and began to carry him across the river. Halfway across, though, the scorpion stung the frog and they both began to drown. As they disappeared beneath the waves, the frog asked the scorpion, "Why did you sting me, for now we will both die." And the scorpion answered, "I couldn't help it."
We can't help who we are.
Most writers hate that they're writers. If they could, they'd be anything else. But, it's our nature that keeps driving us back to it... like an itch we can't stop scratching.
THE PLUS SIDE
There is a plus-side to this story, however.
It is possible to make a living as a writer. Sometimes, in fact, it's possible to make a very good living. And every once in a while... we strike gold.
And gold is something we will never strike working for someone else.
So, instead of lamenting the fact that we didn't choose this life for ourselves... let's raise our glasses instead and thank our lucky stars that Fate was kind enough to choose us. Because Fate saw something extraordinary in us. And it gave us the tools and the drive to write stories that could not only change our lives but maybe even one day could change the world.
Thank you, Fate. And thank you, friends and family, for all your loving support.
May we one day make you proud. :)