It’s a noble thing to decide to try and make it as a writer. I’m automatically keener to anyone who admits to being a writer. Recently I met someone who expressed frustration about his earlier efforts trying to make a living as a writer, but found that doing so was impossible. He finally accepted a job totally unrelated to writing because it paid the bills. He concluded from his experience that “print media is dying.”
I would have to disagree with this often expressed view: all one has to do is consider the Internet. Once the Internet became the Internet “2.0”, it opened itself up for every-day users to contribute their work to third party websites. You need look no further than IMDB.com or Gamespot or Yelp to see people contributing content to the web. Content is being created for the Internet community, by the Internet community. Granted, it’s not making anybody but the hosting websites money, but it’s being created by writers for consumption. Bloggers are still on their own in attempting to produce enough diverse content to make a solid revenue stream.
But books are still being published every year in the tens of thousands. It is simply the case now that writers must adapt to changing times. Non-fiction books must now entertain as they edify. Fictional books must be engaging while delivering meaningful content. Everything a writer writes should be articulated well enough to be read without strain. Having advanced syntax is not a mortal sin, but an essay or story should be easily read, entertaining even, complicated syntax or no.
By the way, this is my biggest complaint with the erudite world of philosophy. I have met many a philosophy major who relish in incomprehensible works like Heidegger. I have to fault philosophers for making their works confounding by writing in cloistered language. The medium shouldn’t block the message with so much jargon and pedantry. A writer should communicate a point clearly and convincingly. Philosophers should be held to the same standards of writing as everyone else, if they would claim that their writing is actually good.
My core message for aspiring writers is this: don’t quit your efforts, the world needs your ideas. Writing is an art, and if you find yourself disposed to write for others, don’t let discouragement drown your desire to contribute meaningfully to the world of ideas. Bruce Lee said that failure in great efforts is not to be feared, only low aim. Failure at a glorious goal is still valuable to the world, and for you, yourself, to strive for.
It is noble to try to change the world with your ideas. It is important to not give into cynicism. Hope is as important for humanity as free will. If you have the inclination to write for others, embrace it. Creating a work that will outlive your life is a great endeavor. And in the words of William James, act as though what you do can make a difference, because it can. Take note that writers like Rachel Carlson changed the world through their writing. If you can eloquently sell your ideas or tell a story, don’t abandon your writing skills because pragmatism and doubt dampen your dreams. You were given your skill set for a reason, make something of it.
© David Metcalf