“It is impossible to discourage the real writers — they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write.”
“Magazine writing is a tough industry to break into.”“Writing a book is a time-consuming long-shot of a gamble.”“Nobody wants poetry/essays/short fiction.”
Yep, I heard them all in the more than 25 years I’ve been in the business. No one was more surprised than me when my essay was published in the local paper, when I was hired (sans degree!) to write for magazines and ad agencies, when my first book, The Gifts of Change, was published (and then released in three foreign editions!), when some of my short fiction actually made their way into literary journals.
I mean, really, can you imagine it! And the truth was, I really never did imagine it.
For years, I wrote just for me, and if someone I trusted read my work, then that was enough. Then, when the pieces started appearing in print or online, I lived in fear that total strangers would criticize my words, my ability or my sheer effrontery in claiming to be a “real writer.”
But while it worried me, it didn’t stop me. My need to write was greater than my fear of rejection.
Not that I am Ms. Ego. I scrutinize every sentence to make sure it is as good as it possibly can be, all the while afraid that it could still be better. But I keep persevering because…well, because I don’t know how not to write.
And while it’s great to look at my body of work and know that I can support myself with my writing, my greatest sense of accomplishment comes not from what has already been published but from the writing that I have done (published or not) and the writing I am doing now (which may or may not find an audience). It comes from honoring that gift I have for communicating via the written word by engaging in that task every day. No matter what.
Writing, not publishing, is the true accomplishment.