“…a lot of times the sensitivity about the writing is a stand-in for sensitivity about something else: you spent so much time chasing this pipe dream that you lose your job, your marriage, your kids; your kids don’t respect you because you didn’t write Harry Potter or Twilight; you charged a lot of money on the credit card for conferences and classes with no tangible results, and now the family is eating beans and rice. For many of us, writing is an addiction, no different from alcohol or drugs or gambling. And maybe people who are angry, bitter, stressed out, or despondent should take a hard look at whether this is something they should be doing–if it’s gone from a hobby to something that’s ruining their lives and their relationships with others.”
As a society, we often celebrate tortured and struggling artists who finally make it big despite their obstacles, and yet we don’t often examine the flip side of this, which is that the vast majority of tortured and struggling artists don’t actually make it. We tend to encourage everyone to write (Person 1 tells an interesting story, Person 2 says “Wow, you should write a book about that”), and there are very few people out there willing to tell any writer they don’t have what it takes and should probably try pursuing something else with their time. I’m guilty of this as well – who am I to say whether or not someone will or won’t be published?
But is this the right approach? Is writing, especially when the odds are long and the cost to a personal life is high, sometimes akin to addiction? When does it cross the line from hobby to “habit?” And should we be encouraging everyone to write?