When I was 12, I decided something very important: I wanted to be a writer. I didn't know how I was going to do it, or what exactly I was going to write, or how I was going to find out, but I knew I loved to write and I wanted to write and, dammit, I was going to be a writer!
Fast forward to 18, I enrolled in the only college I had found with a Creative Writing program. In fact, I only applied to one college... and thankfully, I got into it. Going to the College of Idaho made me a better writer and it taught me a lot of things, but one of those things was actually not how to be a writer. I still don't know how to be a writer: to make people want to read what I have to say; how to constantly be inspired (okay, I guess my classes touched on this); to get jobs where I can write or jobs where I have time to write. Right now, I'm always dancing on the edge of writing, never really getting around to it. I blog, but I have to say, blogging is really different from writing. I don't think bloggers are writers -- some bloggers enjoy writing and have good voices and use of writing when it comes to blogging. But writing a blog is pretty much a completely different beast from writing a poem, or a short story, or a novel. Blogging is its own verb and its own practice.
Sometimes, I wonder why I wanted to be a writer in the first place. What was it that drew me to writing? Part of me really cannot remember what motivated me as a 12-year-old, probably because my motivations were a lot simpler back then: I didn't have the same passions, the same focus, or the same responsibility I do now. My desire was driven, I'm sure, by pure enjoyment. I wasn't a 12-year-old that exactly fit in at school; I didn't have a ton of friends and even through high school, I spent most of my time at work, at school, or alone. I wrote because it was an easy way to not to feel lonely, to immerse myself in something separate from my personal world. I think a lot of writers find solace in immersing themselves in a reality that is both inherently theirs as well as foreign. It's comforting and exciting at once.
I think a lot of people end up wanting to write because it sounds easy. I know a lot of people think my desire to writing is a pure hobby. Why write? It's just so easy! We all do it everyday! But writing -- real writing, not writing beauty reviews or drivel about bands or a wishlist for your birthday -- is hard. It's like slogging through mud. It's heavy; it hurts; it confuses you; it angers you; it makes you laugh, cry, pound the keyboard in frustration. There is nothing harder than being a writer who wants to write. And, more frustrating, it's hard to be a writer in a world that seems jam-packed with writers. I mean, who hasn't done NaNoWriMo? How many people claim they want to quit their jobs to focus on writing? How many of those people, really, do you think carry around notebooks, writing during their lunch breaks? How many send work to literary magazines? How many people actually send finished, polished manuscripts to publishers? I'm just going to go ahead and take a guess that, not many.
A lot of people want to be writers because it's easy. But it's not. It shouldn't be.
Here's the thing: recently, photographers (trained photographers, I mean) get mad because everyone calls themself a photographer these days. I mean, I do. I own a nice camera; I use it to take pictures; I'm a "photographer," I suppose. Every blogger likes to think they could be a photographer too, and to people who are trained, who have spent their lives learning a craft and challenging themselves, get really frustrated by that. And while that mindset annoys me, I see where they are coming from. I have spent half of my life at this point challenging myself as a writer, writing everyday, writing every spare minute, reading to become a better writer, copying poems, songs, quotes, phrases, passages of books and the Bible into notebooks to become a better writer. I live, breathe, and act as a writer. It frustrates me to see people who say, "Well, now I want to write" because they are bored and lack any other passion; or because they want to spend time at home and not have to work. Let me tell you, the number one rule of writers is: always keep your day job, even if it is soul-crushingly boring. I completely understand the frustration. Anyone can call themselves a photographer if they take pictures; it doesn't mean they are. Anyone can call themselves a writer is they write a few pages; it doesn't mean they necessarily are or that they're good at it.
I started writing because it sparked something inside of me. And as I've gotten older, I only feel that more and more. Writing is who I am, it's part of me as much as my hands and feet, my heart and lungs. For every person who wants to be a writer, but doesn't connect to it as I do, I always wish they could find something they are passionate about. I think that's really one of the problems with people: some just never play around enough to find their true passion. There is nothing quite as painful, as lonely, as joyous, as exciting as having a passion, in taking part in it, in living it everyday.