In a strange way, I believe that it’s reassuring to hear the struggles of professional writers. Not that I’m encouraging any writer to fail–that would neither be kind of me nor good karma for my own writing career–but I enjoy hearing and reflecting on their hardships. Now, while that may seem to be a strange fascination, I believe that hearing their journey resonates with my own writing.
Throughout George Orwell, Joan Didion, and Andrew Sullivan’s pieces on why they write/blog, they all documented specific hardships that truly made me think of myself as a writer and overall, my experiences through writing. There was no one piece where I didn’t feel some kind of connection, making me wonder if all writers are more alike than I thought. We all try to believe that we’re especially unique and creative in the ways we write and think, which I’m sure in many ways we are, yet the similarities between writers is no coincidence.
Starting with Orwell’s piece, I could agree with him within his first few sentences when he writes the following: “From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.” Although book writing was never quite for me, I too knew from an early age that I was destine to write. In fact, my love for writing prospered in my 2nd grade creative writing unit. Yet, as I grew older and the technological age emerged, I was surrounded by negative feedback in relation to a career in journalism or writing in general. People claim it’s a dying field, that no one can find a job in the industry, and the list goes on. And so, for awhile, I tried to abandon this love and search for another passion. But I failed in my attempt, and like Orwell, have accepted that writing is what I will do.
Didion’s writing was comforting to me in her modesty. For such an amazing writer, she claims she doesn’t know how to think. I laughed when I read that, as she is such an inspiration to many young writers. But Didion’s concerns are ones that I have been faced with myself in a different capacity. The way I write is conversational, it has always simply been like that. My favorite kind of writing is informal, as if I’m speaking to a friend across the computer screen. Yet many times, I worry that my writing does not sound intellectual enough–that I am not thinking in the ways that a professional writer should. Of course, we all have our own writing styles; writing would be so monotone without differing styles. But, I still concern myself with the idea of not thinking like a professional writer, although I have yet to find one specific mold of such.
Sullivan’s piece was one that strongly resonated with me I believe, since most of my writing is done in blog form. Through reading his article, I became aware of aspects of my own writing that I wasn’t necessarily conscious of before. Although I agreed with the majority of what he wrote, one specific part stood out to me: the vulnerableness of blog posts. Blogging is immediate, emotional, and not very private. Blogging after a rage of emotions, laying everything out on the table and then posting it to the public is absolutely terrifying–but completely rewarding at the same time. As Sullivan talked about in his piece, with companies, a writer has the backing of the entire publication and “harassment” or critique isn’t necessarily only on the writer themselves, but that’s not the case with blogging. When a post is published, comments and responses flow in almost immediately, with only your name and reputation attached. What if individuals don’t like it? What if people think it’s absolutely terrible? What if everyone views you as a terrible writer? All possibilities, but I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking about it.
And so, it is definitely comforting to hear these professional writers struggle in many of the same ways that I have, and currently am, within my own writing. Hopefully that means I am on the right track.