As writers, we are all equals.
Now, I’m not saying that one writer cannot be better than another. What I’m saying is that we all have equal opportunity to become writers. It doesn’t matter if you’ve always wanted to be a writer or if you had a lightbulb moment in your thirties. It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, or blue. Your height, weight, eye colour, hair colour–none of these things make you more or less likely to reach success.
What does make you more likely to reach success as a writer? Hard work, determination, an ability to give and receive feedback, and more hard work. Talent’s nice to have, but passion is the most important thing. You have to be passionate, you have to be willing to reach for it at any cost. If you aren’t focused, if you’re not dedicated, you won’t make it. You might fluke out and get a poem, short story or even a book published. But in the long run? You won’t make it, because you’ll eventually give up.
Even for the most talented writer, who’s been spitting out beautiful poems since the age of ten or who wrote and published their first short story at eleven, a writing career is about determination. All of us will face one, ten, a hundred rejections before we get our first story published. For those of you lucky people who have already been published, it doesn’t change a whole lot. You can still get rejected for your next project. In fact, if you published a book already and it didn’t sell well, it’s even worse than never having published–it makes most editors less likely to take a chance on you. Even so, if you’re determined enough and you work hard enough, you can still get published again.
There’s never been a better time to be a writer. With the advent of the internet, we’ve suddenly become able to access all kinds of new people and new information. There are hundreds of new writing communities accessible to anyone and everyone with an internet connection. For those of us who live in places with inactive or nonexistent writing groups, this is great news. We now have access to proper critique groups, writing chats and communities where we’re really understood. We can even attend an online writing conference–the Muse Online Writing Conference or Write On Con.
And then there are ebooks. The wave of the future causing tremors throughout the publishing industry. With the advent of ebooks, it’s suddenly easier for people to make professional-quality books. It’s cheaper, too. Hundreds of authors are now epublishing themselves, jumping right in with both feet. For the first time in many, many years, authors are self publishing and earning the money and respect they deserve. If you’re confident your book is good enough and you can find people with the technical know-how to make it really look professional, self publishing might just be the way to go. It’s going to be a lot of work with no marketing team at all to back you up, but then again, ordinary writers are doing more and more of their own marketing now anyway.
Every single one of us has a chance to become a professional author. Whether or not we do depends on how hard we’re willing to work with it. One way isn’t easier than another. Just because you self published and didn’t have to go through all the trauma of rejections, doesn’t mean it’s less work. You still have to edit your book to the best it can be, format it or get someone to format it for you, create cover art or get someone to do it for you, and of course there’s marketing. If you really want to make a living off of your writing, you’re going to have to work at it, no matter what your chosen path to publication is. But as long as you’re willing to do the work, there’s a place for you in the world of books.
So never, ever give up.