Every once in a while I get asked what I wish I'd known before becoming a professional writer. It's a smart question I was reminded of yesterday. Back when I started out, I thought for sure that the beginning was the hardest part: laboring in the dark without recognition, never being taken seriously, the constant rejection, the ever-grinding work, the confusion, the depressing uncertainty... I thought that was as hard as it'd ever get. I was wrong.
All of that is what prepares you for the intense emotional aspects and day to day hard work of simply being a professional. I thought that once you "made it" (had an agent and a publishing deal or even got major award nominations) that the rest was roses and unicorns farting rainbows. I thought that I'd never have to worry about being without a contract or representation. That everything would be perfect and fine and my professional problems would be over. None of that is true. And I run into pros who have hit the bumps in the road and are struggling to deal with their expectations of bliss versus the day to day grind of reality. In truth, talent isn't everything. Nor is luck. Both are important aspects of success, but what makes an author stick is bloodymindedness and the ability to create no matter what. That's what I wish I'd known. It wouldn't change anything for me, mind you. But it would've been handy to know.
People tend to not believe when hear that being creative is hard work. All they see is the joy involved in having created. They don't see the process of creation for what it is: difficult work. It's also dangerous--dangerous in the sense that creativity requires that the artist bare their soul to the world. It may not be in obvious ways. In fact, largely the personal is expressed in subtle ways. That doesn't make it any less scary and dangerous. Add to this the fact that every writer hits some form of wall in their career, usually more than once. It's at that point that we have a choice. We can choose to focus on the harm done, or we can choose to process the pain, let go, and move on. None of that is any fun. In addition, we can't expect closure from the outside. That is up to you to find and create for yourself. It's a hard lesson that I've learned. There. Free education for you. Take it and I hope it saves you some time and pain. Most likely it won't.
Because being human is difficult and painful. It's also joyful and fun. Being a creative human is this but even more so.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.