A friend of mine recently found himself facing a tough decision. Does he continue to pursue the dream of being a successful published author or does he get out now and save what's left of his sanity? (You can read his recent post about his dilemma at http://chocolatefordogs.com/2008/11/18/choices-choices-choices/...an excellent blog by the way...I recommend you follow it if you're not already) It's a tough question really, and one I'm sure thousands of other writers are facing at this very moment.
It's certainly a question I've asked myself on more than one occasion. For me it's never a question of will I quit writing. I'm a writer in my soul. It is who I am. Expressing myself with words is my thing. I couldn't stop that if I tried. Pursuing it as a career is another thing altogether. It's brutal really. More brutal than I ever imagined it would be.
Creative people pour their hearts and souls into their work, whatever the medium. For those who find the courage - and believe me it takes courage - to try and get the world to see their work through their eyes, with the same passion and intensity they feel for it, the world can become a cold and lonely place. How is it that everyone you talk to does not see it? Does not get it like you do? Don't ask me...I don't know why.
What I do know is the struggle it creates in your heart when your creation doesn't fly off the shelves. For some of us, pouring your heart into a project is natural, easy almost. Marketing and selling it to others is a different game entirely. Getting your creation onto shelves is a battle in itself. Once you climb that hurdle you sigh a big sigh of relief. "There, I've done it. It's in the stores." Ha! If only it was that easy. Soon the reality sinks in as you see your creation collecting dust, hidden amongst the spines of thousands of other creative works.
At this point some might say that determination is the remaining factor that guides your fate. Fooey! I've got all the determination in the world, but I also have a full time job that pays my bills, a home to keep up, relationships to maintain. And I have to fight off the Dementor of my hopes and dreams...that dark hope sucking presence that weighs heavy on my heart and forces reality down my throat.
It is a process that can make you crazy. It forces you to make tough choices...financial choices, personal choices, professional choices...tough choices. So to my friend who posed the question all I can really say is this; follow your heart and hope that the rest will fall into place. Sometimes it's all you can do. And if the process really does make you crazy, then hope for some good drugs. And don't worry, I'll come visit you in the loony bin...I'm sure there'd be a good story in it.