I’ve wanted to be a professional writer for a rather long time – since I was about 15 years old. I’m glad that I haven’t yet sacrificed that dream, and still hold out hope.
But how seriously should I take such a dream? Should the success of my life be measured by my success as a writer? I don’t think so. But as a self-reflection, I want to explore that question anyway.
Was My Student Experience Worth The Debt?
To give some context to anybody who doesn’t know me that well: I finished my degree, in English & Creative Writing, about 4 years ago with very few ideas about how I would profit from writing. Since graduation, when I achieved a grade of 1st Class (with honours), I’ve been paid, all in all, about £50 for writing services … the equivalent of about £12 per year. Hardly a great turnover for 30 years worth of student debt, is it?!
That being said, nobody told me that undergoing a degree geared towards a career in the arts was ever likely to be profitable … and I haven’t ever complained about those debts because I happen to believe that I have already been rewarded for my 3 years as a student.
That reward is the perspective I have been afforded from the time I spent as a student. The perspective partially came from the lecturers and tutors I paid so much (£8,500 per year, no less) for. Mostly, however, that perspective came from the conversations I had with the people I met along the way (not least the lifelong friends I made), and from the time I spent sitting around, thinking about things, and writing about things.
Of course, nobody needs to pay so much money to learn how talk to people, or to learn how to sit around doing nothing but thinking, reading, and writing!!! Anybody can do that, make no mistake.
But how many people actually do? It isn’t even true of all students – as far as I could/can tell, many students spend their spare time clubbing, drinking, and nursing hangovers … and in fairness, who could blame them for spending their time that way?!
I will confess that I spent a significant amount of my time as a student smoking marijuana and slobbing in front of laptop screens, watching movies and documentaries.
Nonetheless, I spent an equally significant amount of time exploring some of the myriad corridors of my mind, as well as reflecting and meditating on consciousness as an infinite, immortal, yet tangible concept (explaining what I mean by this – without sounding too much like a new age, hippy-dippy melt – would probably require another article entirely).
Furthermore, since I was fortunate enough to meet like-minded people, I had this great opportunity to discuss, in depth, topics such as: the purpose of our lives as individuals; the purpose and direction of mankind as a species on Earth and in the universe; the causes of joy and satisfaction; and the inevitability of death.
If you want to know the answers that I have found to these questions, you can ask me yourself!
But before you do ask me such questions, reader, you should know that I won’t be able to tell you the purpose of your life as an individual; what mankind ought to do next; how to find eternal satisfaction in your life; or what happens when you die.
What I can tell you, though, is this: thinking about and discussing these impossible topics has, and continues to significantly help me develop a worldview, or perspective (fair warning: I’m going to massively overuse this word), that I enjoy.
The perspective has significantly improved my life quality.
When the chips are down, the perspective saves me a whole lot of energy by preventing the process of dwelling on negativity from happening at all. Rather than focusing on arising problems, I will instead focus on potential solutions – perhaps that seems simplistic and obvious, but I know for a fact that many people do waste a lot of time and energy focusing on problems in their lives. They don’t have the perspective.
To be fair, though, there are some ‘problems’ which have no solutions. For example, if you happen to break your leg, there’s nothing you can do to fix your leg other than wait. The perspective helps you relax enough that you can accept, and move forward in spite of such bleak circumstances.
The perspective, in fact, is the very reason that I still want to write. I want to share the perspective. The fact that I enjoy it so much must mean that other people will derive some value from it, too. So, if I can somehow reach those people that could benefit from it, then I think that’d be really nice 🙂
And Here I Am!
Six months following my most recent blog post, I am still trying to write myself into a career with an extraordinarily narrow market.
Incidentally, that previous blog post was written as a boastful promotion of my debut novel, which I claimed would be finished within a month … to cut a long story short: that didn’t quite happen. Ha ha.
In my defence, though, a novel is a significant challenge, and while I have been taught how to write ‘well’ (‘well’, that is, according to academic people in universities, who are often considered to be out of touch with ordinary, working class people) I’ve still never written a piece any longer than 10,000 words A novel, meanwhile, traditionally requires at least 50,000 words.
So, with the huge scale needed to weave together a novel, along with my lack of experience in that form, it is taking more time than I expect to finish my debut book. On the bright side, I have made significant start on that novel back since writing that blog post, and I’m confident of finishing it this year.
That novel, by the way, is my excuse for having not written any blogs for so long. I’ve been busy writing that, and haven’t yet found a balance between writing a book and writing some blog posts. Hopefully this post will be the beginning of the end in that regard.
Writing this novel has been a real, lengthy challenge for me. Moreover, I may never be properly rewarded for my efforts financially.
Nevertheless, I am having a lot of fun in the process. If I manage to write as much as I have written this last year every year for the rest of my life, then I will consider myself a lucky man – regardless of any financial benefits. I love writing! And to be able to do what you love is a reward in and of itself.
(By the way, that doesn’t mean I don’t want anyone to pay me for my writing … I definitely want to be paid for my writing, and will insist upon being paid when writing for someone else’s website/publication!)
Is It Serious, Then?
No, it’s not serious. Obviously. The perspective makes me fully aware that, should I never be paid for the hours (and hours) I spend writing ever again, it wouldn’t need to be deemed a failure. I will still have been successful in the sense that I have enjoyed my process so much … I’ve been successful at finding the time to do what I really enjoy doing.
After all, enjoying ourselves is the best thing we can do in life, is it not?