I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember. As soon as I could put words together, I was making make-shift books about a little man named “Joe”. From building a house to getting superpowers, my main character was changing the world. I’d lay the pages out, fold them over, and staple them right down the middle.
In fourth grade, we were assigned writing projects and my first solo “report” was about the great state of Delaware. I still have it to this day. This was my introduction to structured writing and, when I slipped the final product into its shiny transparent cover, I was hooked. This stuff, I could do all day.
What I loved then, and still do, about writing is that no one can interrupt you. I have a thought and, in however many words I choose, I can tell you about it without having to contend with unhappy expressions or unexpected questions. What type of questions, you ask? Who knows? I can’t hear you. So, no answer is needed. Bam. I just keep going. Score another win for writing.
In 2002, when a wrestling site I frequented allowed me to contribute a weekly Insanity report for WWE Monday Night Raw, I was beyond happy. This was the start of my dream. When I’d tell people, many were excited. Many others were, well…
How much are you getting paid?
Well, nothing yet, I’d answer. I’d watch their faces droop into disapproving glances and feel less than special for embarking my life-long dream. I guess people weren’t impressed until you had a check to show.
The checks did start arriving soon though. Not only did the site start to pay me, but I was contributing regularly for all the same wrestling magazines I used to scoop up from newsstands as a kid. By the time ECW Press published the first of my two books, I felt I had made it. I went back to those same people who seemed fixated on paychecks to tell them about my recent successes. Surely now, they’d be proud.
Oh. I don’t really watch wrestling.
Yeah? Oh. My bad. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot by asking if you watched wrestling. Oh wait. I didn’t. No one did. No one cares.
Their unexcited glares and disinterested questions about whether “it’s all phony baloney” brought me down a few pegs. Again, my dream wasn’t much in their eyes.
Still, I kept going, albeit with a little less spring in my step, at times. I couldn’t stop anyway. I wasn’t doing this for them. I’m not even sure if I was doing it for me. If anything, I felt like I was writing for the universe. The act itself felt right and, in my soul, I knew it was what I was meant to be doing. I just had to keep going.
In 2017, I was ready for a fresh start. Kids, heart surgery, and other real world things made want to switch the focus of my writing. Today, I talk more about my life, as a dad, while also serving as an editor to an online website. Considering these past critics “don’t really watch wrestling” and I was now making money, all their previous criticisms would be squashed. Right? You’d think. I’ll never forget the response from one upon hearing about my new direction.
Aren’t you going to run out of topics?
Um. No? I mean, maybe, but…what? I hope not. How is that a first thought? Why even vocalize it? Haven’t these people ever heard of smiling and offering pleasantries? Before I had even typed a word, I was already feeling the disapproval simmering.
Four years later and I haven’t run out yet. I have proudly seen my work picked up by major sites and outlets. When my third book, about pregnancy and parenting, was released last year, I was thrilled. It was a great achievement in a new space. I felt like a genuine writer. I handed a copy to many of these same people.
Oh nice. Thank you. What a beautiful book. So, what’s your job?
I’m a writer. I am the editor for a website and wrote that book. That one right there.
I know, but what do you do for work?
You are literally holding my book. In your hands. Look down.
Yes. But what’s your real job?
Argh. Do you feel the frustration in those words too? Have you experienced those frustrations in your own life? I find that writing is interchangeable with any realized passion anyone might have. You chase it because you have to. It’s not about dazzling the peanut gallery. Even if they are blown away by your mad skills, they might never show it. If you’re chasing the approval of others, you will never be satisfied.
So don’t do it to impress anyone.
Do it because something inside of you tells you to keep going. Do it because of how it makes you feel and because you know, deep down, that to not do so would be a crime against nature. When you have a passion for something, your goal should be to nurture it. Find the thing you love, feed it, and watch it grow. It’s a big part of why you’re here.
I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this. If you didn’t read it though, I would still have written it anyway. Never judge your dreams based on how others see them. Sometimes the disapproving scowl is hiding the true feelings of envy beneath.
You found something special in your soul that they might still be searching for in themselves. Many never find it. If you did, be proud. I know I am.