What is a writer?

be a writerIf only I knew.

Every time I close the the word processor for the day, feeling like I’ve made some progress, have I just been deluding myself? Am I living in some fantasy, thinking that I will ever see books on shelves that people will actually comment about in other spheres of the internet? Websites that people actually look for instead of blogs like mine where a paltry handful stumble upon? Is writing really the best way to be spending my time? I could be devoting more hours to learning Korean, a language that I am still just barely fluent at after seven years in the country. Perhaps I could focus more on my wife and newly born daughter. Not that I’m a terrible husband or father, but writing doesn’t just take away the time while you’re pounding away on keys. It’s a constant drag on my mental processes. Always lurking in the back of my mind, bogging down my system, unfocusing my eyes when I should be a more active part of the conversation.

How long have I been trying to get published? Not even that, how long have I been looking for an agent? It’s not even measured in years for me, but in manuscripts. Six. Six manuscripts totaling about 400,000 words. But those are only the final draft, after about four or five each. So my total word count has to be above a million. Didn’t some famous writer say you had to get through a million words of shit before you started producing anything of worth? Am I there yet?

It’s not even a lack of ideas. People think that’s the hard part, but it’s really time. One manuscript takes hundreds, thousands of hours until you’re ready to abandon it to the ether, hoping an agent will see through a query letter and request pages. Hoping for that email. That call. That contract that feels like dreams only other writers get to write about on their blogs. While I’m stuck here. Writing this depressing drivel that I’m not even sure I want to press publish on.

But who am I kidding? I could say it’s not fair, that I’ve put in the hours, that I’ve got what it takes, but the truth is, maybe I don’t. Maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time. Maybe all those thousands of hours stored on my hard drive, never to be read by anyone, are just wasted time. Time I could have spent being a normal guy with normal hobbies. I could have made more friends. Or any friends at all. Could have learned programming or something else that would bring real money in.

Nothing would have filled the hole though. Until I get a contract or some sort of validation, writing will continue to feel like alcoholism. This addiction that I can function with but maybe not as it sinks its fangs deeper into the flesh of my life. Some part of me says to cut my losses, move on, but an addict can’t make promises, only excuses. I’ll get an agent this time. This book with shock them. Next time….

And I keep writing. Keep plotting and planning and falling asleep to the next perfect plot point. The cliffhanger that will make someone want to keep reading. I can’t help it.

Because I’m a writer. And a writer is just another addict.

(Image Source: The Oatmeal)