Monday, July 30, 2012

So You Want to be a Writer: A Letter to Myself

This is a letter I wrote to myself when I decided to give up the pre-med track a while ago. Part inspiration, part BS, it was a way to make myself feel less guilty for making a decision that not everyone was happy with or proud of. Moral of the story: everyone's not going to like your choices, but as long as it's moral and legal, do you. The end. 

So, you want to be a writer. Not a doctor? It only took a solid 12 years to realize it.

You've been writing poems since you were eight. You wrote your first novel at 11. You made a self-published seasonal magazine and sold it to your class for ten cents in the fourth grade. Who were you kidding? Yeah, you were good at science, but you liked writing better. You knew it and so did everyone else.

You've wanted to write since you realized that writing was the best way to get out what you needed to say. Hopelessly and painfully awkward in person, pen and paper (or laptop, now) made you charming and eloquent (and yes, still awkward, like now). You've finally decided to care a little less about what people think and a little more about what you want and that's good. By doing this you're letting go. A little. I hope.

So here's the deal: You're never going to get to live a crazy lavish lifestyle. You aren't Carrie Bradshaw, but one day, maybe you can be Eva Chen or Jane Keltner or Amy Astley (which, to be perfectly honest, would be better than being Carrie Bradshaw--sorry SJP!). You're probably going to have to work ridiculously hard to get by. You'll need a mind like a diamond and the kind of charm nobody's experienced before. You're not entering a dream come true. To be perfectly honest, all of the people who have told you that you're taking the easy way out are full of it. The easy way out would be to go to med school and become a doctor. It's so safe, so Elise. It's not easy to be creative or enter a super competitive world where you're not guaranteed a thing.

Yeah, you're going to have to give up the notion of job security, but it's worth it to get your ideas out, right? Wrong. But only sometimes. There are going to be people who don't want to listen to you (and by listen I mean read). Someone's going to have an opinion about everything. You're going to have critics. Everybody's not going to get it. But you get it. That's what matters. You love it, right? Right. And if you're really lucky and light enough church candles on Sundays, there might be people who like you. And think you're funny. And want to read what YOU write. That's when the struggle is more than worth it. That's the goal.

You're determined. I know you are. If you want it, you'll find a way to have it. You have a sick amount of drive. And OCD, but that's ok, because for some reason you let it go when you write.

And it's not like you want to be a novelist or creative writer. There's nothing wrong with that. But I know you, because, well, I am you. And you want a whole repertoire. You want to write articles, you want to edit. You want to make drafts of press releases and pitches. You want to write content and witty item descriptions. If you could tweet professionally, you'd probably do it.

My writing persona is my Sasha Fierce. Yes, that was, in fact, a Beyonce reference. I like Nabakov and Hemingway. I like Beyonce. My mind's a random amalgamation of cultural contradictions. My love for that fact is undying. I think it's what motivates me to write. I have such random ideas floating in my head that I need to purge them and share them. I couldn't really do that had I decided to become a dermatologist.

The moral to this stream of consciousness is this: being a writer isn't going to be easy. Sometimes it isn't going to be fun. But you love it, so you're going to do it and it's going to make you happier than being a doctor. It doesn't matter what anyone says. If you want success badly enough, you'll work toward it and find it. Don't ever let people stop you, but take a second to evaluate their criticisms. Prove them wrong, because if there's anything you're exceptional at, that's it. Stop doing what's safe and what people want you to do. It's your life, not theirs.

I hope you read this a little down the line and realize you made the right choice.


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