Trying to make money, let alone a living, at writing is so hard. It’s not like a regular job, where I just go into it, start at a low level, learn things, and then move up the ladder. Instead, there’s no manager training me in the business of it; I have to just go through it, learning things along the way, stumbling, sometimes falling, and then getting up, dusting myself off, and moving on.
The tough thing about it is that there are really two things that I’m learning. The first is the writing itself, and though I don’t have managers coaching me every step of the way, I do have a lot of people helping me out. At the very least, I can pick up a well written book and learn from it.
The tougher thing to learn, at this point, is the business aspect of all of this, and I wish I’d gotten started a whole lot earlier. There’s just so much to learn, and I often feel as if I’m flying blind.
I stumble through the world of publishing in the dark. I see all these books, television shows and movies, and those worlds seem like walled in cities, impossible to scale. People who’ve managed to get into those cities all seem to offer stories that differ, so there’s no standard rule, it seems, for getting there.
There are so many pitfalls. People come along and say that they can get me into those cities for a fee. I know that these people don’t make their living getting people into those cities; instead, they make their money telling people they will get them there, and then, when they get the money that people give them, they vanish, never to be seen again.
Then there are the people inside those cities who will not pay me when I give them what they ask for. I haven’t experienced this yet, as I haven’t received a dime for my writing, but I know that at some point, I will, and some people will try not to pay me. This will be frustrating.
I don’t even want to think about the prospect of someone stealing my work. That’s just too miserable a thing to consider.
It’s a back and forth thing. I write, I publish the things I write on my blog, and I write some more. Now I see that I need to occasionally take a break from this and read about how to get this stuff between two covers, or on a screen. This will not be easy.
It would seem that involves picking a part of that wall that surrounds the city, and working on it with a drop of water. The drop of water falls on the huge marble wall, and seems to do nothing. It is impossible to conceive of the fact that with every drop, it is taking some of that wall with it.
Eventually, some of the wall wears away. It is a very, very small part of the wall that has worn away. It will be very discouraging, just how much of this wall remains. It is necessary to keep those drops of water coming.
There will be stories of people who breached that will with one swing of their fist. Somehow, for these people, their fist struck the wall just the right way, and they punched their way into that city. People will prey upon my desire to be one of these people; I shall ignore them.
Yet maybe, if I’m lucky, as I pause every once in a while to take a swing at the wall with my fist, there will be a crack. I will shake my hand, my knuckles bruised. I will once again go back to my drops of water.
Perhaps someone who lives in this city will invite me to visit, if I’m lucky. If I keep writing, I will have gotten fit enough to take advantage of the hammer and chisel that they give me as the guards escort me back out of this city, and lead me back to the section of wall that I’m working on.
If I’m lucky to get through, the section of wall that I’ve cleared away will immediately close up. It will leave behind subtle clues to the way I got through it, but it will be necessary for the next person who comes upon this section of wall to work on it with drop after drop of water.
And through it all, they will have to sit down and write, the better to become more skilled at working those drops of water, and taking those occasional swings in the hopes that a crack will appear on the wall.
Writing. Drops of water. Occasional fist strikes. Back to writing. More water. Another occasional fist strike.
And so on.
That is the way it is, and that is the way it shall be.