Do you want to make a career out of writing?
Here’s 15 damn good reasons to think again, straight from the trenches, from those who have been there before you.
1. Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer - and if so, why?- Bennett Cerf
2. As for me, this is my story: I worked and was tortured. You know what it means to compose? No, thank God, you do not! I believe you have never written to order, by the yard, and have never experienced that hellish torture.
– Fyodor Dostoevsky
3. You know how it is in the kid’s book world; it’s just bunny eat bunny.
4. Unless a writer is extremely old when he dies, in which case he has probably become a neglected institution, his death must always be seen as untimely. This is because a real writer is always shifting and changing and searching. The world has many labels for him, of which the most treacherous is the label of Success.
– James Baldwin
5. Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil - but there is no way around them. - Isaac Asimov
6. Beware of self-indulgence. The romance surrounding the writing profession carries several myths: that one must suffer in order to be creative; that one must be cantankerous and objectionable in order to be bright; that ego is paramount over skill; that one can rise to a level from which one can tell the reader to go to hell. These myths, if believed, can ruin you. If you believe you can make a living as a writer, you already have enough ego.
– David Brin
7. Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.
– J. P. Donleavy
8. I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop.
– Clarence Budington Kelland
9. All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
– George Orwell
10. People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it.
– Harlan Ellison
11. ‘ … it maddens me not to get published. I feel at times like getting every publisher in the world by the scruff of the neck, forcing his jaws open, and cramming the Mss down his throat — ‘God-damn you, here it is – I will and must be published.’ You know what it means – you’re a writer and you understand it. It’s not just ‘the satisfaction of being published.’ Great God! It’s the satisfaction of getting it out … That good or ill, for better or for worse, it’s over, done with, finished, out of your life forever and that, come what may, you can at least, as far as this thing is concerned, get the merciful damned easement of oblivion and forgetfulness.
– Tom Wolfe
12. Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.
– Leo Rosten
13. People are certainly impressed by the aura of creative power which a writer may wear, but can easily demolish it with a few well-chosen questions. Bob Shaw has observed that the deadliest questions usually come as a pair: "Have you published anything?" (loosely translated as: I've never heard of you) and "What name do you write under?" (loosely translatable as: I've definitely never heard of you).
– Brian Stableford
14. Every writer must acknowledge and be able to handle the unalterable fact that he has, in effect, given himself a life sentence in solitary confinement. The ordinary world of work is closed to him — and that if he’s lucky!
– Peter Straub
15. Writing is a fairly lonely business unless you invite people in to watch you do it, which is often distracting and then you have to ask them to leave.
– Marc Lawrence
Have I put you off? No? Well good, then. Because if you’re really serious about being a writer, nothing anyone says will ever stop you.
That’s the truth of it.