Originally posted on May 25, 2009 at 12:44 AM

I often hear famous authors say things like, “If you don’t absolutely have to write to survive, don’t become a writer as a profession. It’s too hard.” Or, “Writing isn’t an option for me; it’s a necessity.” *clears throat* I call bullshit.

I can think of only two reasons that a successful author might say this to novices desiring to achieve publication, success, fame, etc. 1) They want to scare off as many people as possible to avoid extra competition in an already devastatingly competitive field. Or, 2) They are fooling themselves into actually believe it.

I think the members of option 1 are sneaky buggers with low self-esteem. And of option, 2, they are probably the same people who describe relationships in this way: “We just knew that we had to be together forever; there wasn’t really a choice.” We’ve all heard people say things like that. And to be honest (because someone must), it’s just not true. Every day we must wake up and reaffirm our commitments, our dreams, our identities. Because it all can change, no matter how strong the passion, how sure the desire, how tender the love. Life is unstable, and to keep a common factor throughout, one must choose to make room for that factor in every changing stage of life. In love and writing, it’s a choice.

I understand where some of those people are coming from, I think. Something along the lines of: writing is who I am, not just what I do. I think I would say that, too. But to say that you had no other choice is to mislead—to exaggerate. We all have options. I would have made a great evolutionary biologist, a good waitress, and a fabulous interior designer, for starts. But that’s not what I ultimately decided. I’ve decided that I want to be a writer. So every day, I reaffirm that commitment to myself. I reevaluate my goals and dreams and find them sound. I struggle with the pull between my career dreams and my personal life. Some days writing wins and I get good work done; some days it loses and other things come first. But overall, I am holding up my commitment and striving to achieve my goals… because I choose to.

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