October 14, 2013

The writing world is like a high-speed train

Dear M,

Entering the writing world (or any world of art for that matter, so I'm told) is like jumping into a high speed train.

You think that once you "get there", you are safe, and settled, and satisfied, and calm. That your life of struggle is behind you. No such thing.

First, when you write, your only dream is to get published. Once you blow the agent or the publisher over, you start worrying about your readers. Will they like what you have written? Once your debut novel has gone on to become a best-seller, the pressure mounts: people are going to expect a better-than-best-seller from you. When is your next book coming out? What is it going to be about? We're eagerly waiting. The entire set of frustration that you had packed up into your suitcase, thinking you will never have to see them again, will come tumbling out.

It is a never-ending journey. A book or two is not going to give you retirement pension you can live on. They are not going to give you a life of contentment (except something that's temporary). If they did, we would never be able to produce our masterpiece. It's this feeling of pressure, frustration, that makes us stretch ourselves.

And the day we are thrown out of the train, is the day we die. And most of us will die with an incomplete manuscript (or two) in our file.


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