Writing is important to you–it’s why you call yourself a writer/author. You take time out of your already impossibly-busy days to write because if you didn’t, you’d feel something missing. You may not get to it every day, maybe not even every week, but you try, because, goshdarnit, this is your dream.
But there are always naysayers. People who show up explicitly to ruin your party (even if your party happens at 3 am in a Red Bull-fueled frenzy in a dark room with a bright screen in front of you). People who may even care about you, but they don’t get it. And because they don’t get it, they tell you it’s not worth it. That your dream is stupid, dumb, not important.
Don’t. Listen. To. Them.
Writing is important to me–it’s why I call myself an author. I take time out of my already impossibly-busy days to write because if I didn’t, I’d feel something missing. I may not get to it every day, maybe not even every week, but I try, because, goshdarnit, this is my dream. I work a full-time job to pay my bills while I work hard to achieve my biggest dream: becoming a full-time author.
And yet, even with all the effort I put in, even with the enthusiasm in my voice when I talk about my books, I still have people who say, “Nicole, you really should leave writing as a hobby.” or “Nicole, you are neglecting your family by putting in so many hours on your books.” Please stop. My also-an-author husband and my two cats are perfectly comfortable with me spending my time on this, and I make sure to give them plenty of my time. (Admittedly, I know I have a very convenient system at home, and I recognize that not everyone has this.)
But you know what’s common among all of these people? Nine times out of ten, they’re not writers. They don’t get that drive. They don’t understand the rush of having a full manuscript in your hands, knowing you created that from scratch. They don’t know the exhilaration when a reader tells you how much they enjoyed your book. They don’t know the pride of receiving an email from an agent expressing interest or seeing your book in actual, in-your-hands existence.
And, it’s possible that they have given up on their dreams, too. That works for some people. Some are content to not rock the boat in exchange for security. And that’s fine. Seriously. I’m glad it works for them. And if you’re in the camp or leaning that way, that’s okay. Just don’t let anyone’s words or actions make that decision for you. Your dream is yours and yours alone to decide what to do with.
But in the same way following my dreams doesn’t agree with their lifestyle, giving up on them doesn’t agree with mine. The moment my husband affirmed the idea that I could make a living writing books, I was gone. The world had no chance to pull me back.
Don’t let people discourage you from your dream. It’s not a bad thing to have people of different opinions around you. Alternative viewpoints can keep you grounded. But if you’re in a vulnerable state (like just after getting a few rejection letters), be smart about who you surround yourself with. You are responsible for protecting your dream. People are far less likely to change their views than you are to change your inner circle. Your mental state comes first. Talk to other writer friends, listen to some soul-enriching music, binge a show on Netflix. You might even need to take a step back for a while. That is perfectly okay. Do what you need to do to recover.
My favorite band is Icon For Hire. Their lyrics are some of the most honest I’ve ever come across. Recently, they launched their latest CD, “You Can’t Kill Us”, and this title track has become my writing anthem because it’s all about how life can’t take away our dreams. (If you’d like to listen to it, here’s a lyric video. It really is incredible.) I feel every bit of the lyrics in my writing: “We’ve been lost, been to the bottom…Still we fight, we will survive.”
Life tries. People try. All. The. Mother. Freakin. Time. Family, work, friends, random cat emergencies, other priorities, something is always trying to creep in on your dream. And sometimes life throws some really good curves at you. Sometimes people who try to talk you out of your dream know exactly which buttons to push. But take heart that you are not alone. Other writers have traveled down these dark roads. Even more are going through it right now with you.
So do what you need to do, but don’t let anyone else dictate to you what your dreams should be. Those belong to you.