Little Fish Gets Schooled

It’s tough being a little fish.

I’ve always written. I remember my public school having their own “book binding” (Grade Eights with glue and sewing machines), and how thrilled I was to see my “books” after completion. I wrote little stories all the time. And I read like I breathed, every single day, no matter what. I used to read as my Mom drove me home from the library because I couldn’t wait the ten minutes before starting a new book.

It’s been a dream of mine, always, to one day join the secret tribe of Authors. To know their secrets and learn their magic. I wanted to be a famous writer the way other kids wanted to be rock stars. It felt like the same thing.

I grew up just knowing that someday it would happen. Of course it would. I’d have a study, and a pot of tea, and I’d dash off bestseller after bestseller. It seemed formulaic: read the books, learn the nuance, then…fame. Easy.

I somehow, in my child-fantasies, completely missed reality.

I neglected to understand that I had to put in the work. It’s not glamorous to think that a good portion of what you write will be garbage, and it’s hard as hell to accept that and still come back the next day. I refused to accept anything less than perfection. Instead I dabbled, kicking ass at English and penning little stories here and there, just enough for the occasional ego boost. I was sure that some day the gate would be opened and I’d somehow just stumble upon The Truth.

I have, now.

Authors are people who buckle down and actually write. They’re (WE’RE) “Writers” because that’s what we do. We write. There is no secret. You don’t need permission, or approval. Anyone can do it, to some varying degree. Pick up a pen, open a laptop, and spill your story. It’s not mystical, or arcane.

It’s work. It’s the potential for rejection. It’s the sobering reality that I may never make a living at this. It’s the fact that the thing won’t write itself, and it’s up to me to carve out the time to make it happen. It’s knowing that I’m surrounded by peers who have been in the publishing game already for years. It’s reading articles by and about people who make enough to get by, by their words alone, and feeling hopeful and distraught at the same time.

It’s coming to terms with the fact that it seems like everyone is writing these days, and I’m a tiny fish in their immense pond. There’s no real path to take, no markers that show me what to do next. But I’ll keep swimming against the current, working harder, so someday, someday I might reach my goal.

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