The subject for today’s article is the Question of the Month for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group … and it’s one I get myself from time to time. So, here’s the unvarnished truth.
First, let’s get this out of the way: this question is not about feeling discouraged. I have confirmation from a best-selling author that this happens to every single one of us. This is about throwing in the towel. For me, the short answer is yes, I did.
What happened was this: I was a newspaper editor, which was the job I had aimed for with my career since I was 18 years old. I had just written my first book, a work for hire called Born of War … Dedicated to Peace. I had been assured that my role on the military base was safe, but that had proven untrue; the organization for which I worked was being inactivated. The Dept. of Defense had found me another job, but it was one in a role I hadn’t held for well over a decade … and for a boss who turned out to be abusive. That’s a story for another time.
To make a long story very short, I stopped thinking of myself as a writer, because my day job no longer entailed developing stories, researching the news, and all of the other things that I thought made me a writer. I didn’t pick up the proverbial pen again for almost a decade.
What made me come back to it? Honestly, a short story idea that didn’t shut up until it turned into my first novel, In The Eye of The Beholder. I had characters showing up in my head who demanded to be released into the world. It took me four years to finish the book, but within short order I had both a UK and a US publishing contract for the tale. I’m not going to lie; I was lucky in that regard. I had contacts who made introductions to some people, and things fell into place. When the rights reverted back to me on both contracts, I re-released the book on my own.
During those moments of discouragement I mentioned earlier, I wondered aloud on Facebook why I dared to call myself a writer. Several of my friends said the same thing: “You are a writer; you write.” And that’s the bottom line. As long as we are still writing, we are writers.
I’m not an especially religious person, but there are numerous Biblical references that say “Therefore, be not discouraged.” I think that, regardless of our faith (if any), we can all use the reminder not to give up on our dreams of writing.
Just for today, therefore, be not discouraged. Give yourself the same advice tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.
If you are writing, you are a writer.