A black and white romantic photo of a “struggling writer” might capture the poet in bohemian Paris: he’s given up his worldly belongings to live in an attic where he subsists on tea and toast. The struggling writer of the past was devoted to his art form. Some of his family (if he was less self-inflicted then the typical boho-writer and actually had one), may have died of tuberculosis. It was a tragic and terribly passionate lifestyle.
Today the struggling writer passes you on the street. They have a job. They are putting food on the table and shopping at the mall in the same stores you are. It’s less romantic and far more private. You don’t proclaim to the world “I! I am a right-tor!” because you aren’t even really sure what it means “to be a writer” these days. The struggling writer of today, is struggling, but not in the traditional sense of the meaning.
We can’t really choose what we’re good at can we? If I’ve wished it once, I’ve wished it a hundred times in my life: science, math, numbers and equations. Because everyone knows these subjects equal money and jobs that are fully respected for being “actual jobs,” right? I mean, the arts degrees? You have to be crazy to be an arts students these days! (and I say this half with an air of sarcasm, half entirely serious). But let me be clear: if I had it in me to be a doctor, I would not have opted out of grade 11 chemistry. I didn’t choose verbosity over pure logic, it just comes naturally.
So here I am fully educated and instead of being able to read diagnostic report, or prescribe medication, or balance the corporate accounts of a business , I can offer you this: the articulation of my thoughts. At best and its most useful, I can probably help you articulate yours. Like say for instance if we’re having a conversation and you just can’t find that word you are looking for, I can give it to you (because I’ve got a word for that.)
For better or worse I use words like “escarpment” and “prolific” casually in social conversations. All it takes is one person to draw attention to my choice of wording and I feel like an uncool teenager standing out in a crowd where you would least want to be noticed. It’s not directly said but what’s unspoken is that the words I’ve chosen seem condescending or unnecessary. I find little comfort in the understanding that they feel small because the words seem big.
The point is, a struggling writer has a lack of autonomy in our society today. If you are a writer it’s not easy to do what you love. In most cases it turns out that doing what you love means pursuing it as a hobby in light of more realistic life choices: find a job, make some money, buy a house do the normal things. You know, the things that less agnostic people doing without batting an eyelash. It’s a bliss of personality differences of which I’m incredibly envy.
And even if it’s a hobby, it takes courage to admit it. It’s embarrassing at times to have a blog… particularly one like this that is basically about nothing… with basically no audience. Punching at the air with musings on life, because try as you might to stuff it back down inside you, it pops back out. It would be easier to be able to ignore it, but the nature of self-articulation means that you aren’t able to ignore that nagging inner voice inside you.
So I turned to blogging. I’m here probably for many of the same reasons you are: the attic in Paris is a little less than realistic life choice at the moment. This is a haven for all of today’s struggling writers, of which I am certain there are at least an odd 400,000 of us out there. I recommend you do what I do and take solace in the fact that “true genius is rarely recognized“… it will help a bit.