On Becoming a Writer

Woman writing

I am a 21-year-old highschool dropout from Eastern Europe, and I want to write stories for a living. In English. That’s a mad dream, isn’t it?

It will certainly not be easy. Three years ago I did not know more English than the average non-native Internet user. During childhood I have not read any books. At school I studied mostly French – we rarely had a stable English teacher. I have not inherited many writerly genes – my parents did not go to college, nor had their parents. And I never had a mentor – my father died when I was little. On top of that, when I made up my mind to learn English to write a novel I was also depressed.

Making Progress

Over the last three years I have taught myself English, by reading literature and non-fiction books, and especially by writing. Now I can type floccinaucinihilipilification properly, and know the difference between which and witch, which I did not know when I started.

Now I can earn a living as a freelance writer. I don’t make much, but it’s enough for my ascetic lifestyle. The good part is that I work only a few hours a day, and I can devote my best hours to writing my story.

Finding Refuge

I write because I need to create an alternative world to which I can escape when I have to. I am painfully shy. I don’t feel well outdoors, in crowded places. That’s why I did not really fit in anywhere as a child, and I was unhappy. And then something was always missing.

As I grew, I confused the thing I needed with teamspirit of football, with the illusions of appearances, with fun of videogames, and then for a little while, with the charms of an older woman.

But I still did not find what was missing and this made be sad, so sad that I grew fond of rooftops. I became depressed. It was during those times that I stumbled upon books in English, and they helped me escape from my woes. And the more I read the more I wanted to read, until I felt the howling urge to write stories.

Oliver and Katherine

I have not yet tried to publish anything. This year I wrote a 85,000-word novel called Oliver and Katherine, about a moonbeamed painter and an icy arts patron. I am still tinkering with it. I plan to let go of it early next year, so I can start writing my other, bigger story.

I will make Oliver and Katherine available online for free, as an e-book. Maybe it will land me a deal with a publisher, maybe it will make me immortal, or maybe nobody will ever read it. Anything can happen.

On Writing

There are many books out there worth reading, and many writers better than me. And yet that does not daunt me. That’s because I see writing not as a competition with other writers, but as a struggle to get the best out of yourself. It does not really matter who you are or where you live, so long as you are ready for the struggle you can write a story.

As you can see, this did not turn out to be a step by step guide on how to become a writer. I am young and somewhat unwise, but even I can tell that there is no easy guide, no simple shortcut, no secret or special formula to writing a great story, or to doing anything in this life.

Those successful few have struggled to get where they are now. The more you struggle, the greater your chances of succeeding.

Becoming a Writer

You become a writer when you understand that you are among those few who, to have peace of mind, need to write daily. And when you understand that you begin the struggle with yourself and start writing your story.

And you do your best, and you hope for the best. And you don’t think about publishing or about marketing until you’re done, because all those distract you from your story.

Once you have your story, anything can happen. And if the worst happens, then you will be sad, but you will not regret what you did, because the writing helped you understand yourself better.

112 thoughts on “On Becoming a Writer

  1. What about having the need to write daily, but in a journal? No story, just your own musings and experiences. I love to write in this way. I panic if my journal isn’t in my bag. It’s been my addiction for the last ten year.

    1. I have a journal too, but I don’t write in it daily. It’s good to keep one, but I find the first person limiting. I feel shame when I write in the first person. 🙂

      1. Well, not really. For all my fancy schooling, I still ended up working for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Come on, that ain’t worth 10 grand a semester!

  2. Nothing is a mad dream if you apply your all to it, and if you pursue it with the passion that should be reserved for dreams.

  3. ‘That’s because I see writing not as a competition with other writers, but as a struggle to get the best out of yourself.’
    This is lovely, and very well put. Being a writer is a journey. If you begin to simply ‘get there’ then you’ll never make it. But if you accept that along the way you will have many opportunities to find out about yourself, and others, and that only in doing this can you truly be a writer, then you will achieve your dream. Keep going!

  4. “…I can tell that there is no easy guide, no simple shortcut, no secret or special formula to writing a great story, or to doing anything in this life.”
    And that’s a life wisdom that sums up everything.

    You found the road that lights up under your footsteps. You found your way… That’s beautiful cause that’s what we all seek for…

  5. I love your last couple paragraphs. Hits home. Always love meeting fellow writers out there, esp those on the same road as me. I wish you the best of luck in this dream and I look forward to the day I see your books in a bookstore! 😉

    P.S. Thank you for liking a post on my blog. Hope you have a great day!

  6. I admire your journey as a writer, and encourage you to continue down the path you find yourself on. I loved reading this entry, and can relate to your contemplations and ponderings. Please let me know when you will be releasing your novel. I happen to be one of those random people that will definitely read it. Also, a sincere thanks for liking my article. Have a wonderful day.

    1. Thanks for that Jordan!

      Oliver and Katherine will come out in spring 2013.

      We have much to discover about ourselves until then.

      I’ll keep an eye on you and on your writing. 🙂

  7. I disagree with you, sir. You are wise beyond your years. The last paragraphs on writing are some of the wisest I’ve read in my career. You are an inspiration and will be a guiding light, on or off the rooftop. I loved this article so very much.

  8. Thanks for liking my post, This is a great post, I love your writing its sort of mesmerising, so I think you’ll do great. I’m about to start writing a book too, just working out the bones of it and making notes here and there waiting for it to take shape, I like not knowing the outcome and being open about where it will lead. I have not been to fancy school, just a good old British one. Happy writing 🙂

  9. Wisdom often resides in the strangest of places, voiced from the mouths of, well, not babes, but 21 year old high school dropouts. I get newly inspired about once a week to continue writing. You are this weeks inspiration…

  10. It seems to me that you have found your true calling, and I find it quite amazing how far you’ve come in so few years and you’re still so young. I have no doubt that you will get read and you will become an international writer – oh, and I like your “not for money, but for immortality” that’s just pure awesome! 🙂

  11. Your courage, determination and wisdom are inspiring. As for ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’, I can’t spell it without copying it from you! I wish you every success. Thank you very much for visiting my blog and liking the Botanical Fruit post. Sarah

  12. I’m happy that you found the quote to your liking. Sometimes I’m afraid that I might tick someone off, but at my age, what’s the difference if I say what I mean. I read your piece on becoming a writer. I applaud your dedication. I’m a muscle bound poet. I have a book that I started but had lots of parts and it took me a month to get the opening paragraph. Maybe I should write it like it was a long poem-hey what an iidea. Any way I look forward to reading your work. I’m always open for criticism and looking at other people’s work. I never try to tear down unless there is also something to take its place-green criticism. Just the fact that you take it seriously as you do puts you far ahead of many other bloggers. Be well. KB

  13. wonderful, excellent, very very true…and from one so young. Wisdom resides not in age in deed. You echoes some om my thoughts,- writing to escape this world and get into anoter where anything is possible, writing not to compete with other writers but to bring out the best in yourself.

    i love your writing.

  14. This is really well written! You seem very driven on your path to achieve your dream, despite being young and “unwise”, as you say. That’s very inspiring 🙂
    I too wish to be a writer some day. The need to write daily is ever-present. I always have a story to tell, constantly brewing in my mind. It’s really nice to see that there are other “young” people (writing that sentence made me feel old!) out there who enjoy reading books and writing stories as much as I do. Keep up your good work, hopefully one day I will stumble upon one of your books in a bookstore 🙂

  15. i found this post very encouraging. Love this part: “Maybe it will land me a deal with a publisher, maybe it will make me immortal, or maybe nobody will ever read it. Anything can happen.” It’s so realistic. I often want to write a novel because my desire to bless and inspire people is mixed with my desire to be read and known. i may begin adopting the following mindset: “That’s because I see writing not as a competition with other writers, but as a struggle to get the best out of yourself.”

      1. Yes, but I think your writing is good enough for people to buy, right from the get-go. And publishers, at least in America, always like to see that your work will sell on the open market.

      2. Yes, but you are talented enough that people would pay for your work, esp. for a reasonable sum. And publishers, at least in America, like to see that an author’s work will sell in the open market.

  16. It is interesting to find out how others have gotten into the whole writing obsession. For myself it is something that I have always done but it is only recently that a fire has been ignited inside me and I have come to realize my passion for words. Anyway keep it up 🙂

  17. Joseph Conrad did it, so why not you? One of the things yoga has taught me is not to compare myself to all the people who do fancy postures without blinking. What’s important is that you show up on your mat (at your computer) every day to work.
    English is not my first language either and let me ask you: Does writing in another language than the one you grew up with enable you to ‘step away’ from this world, into another one of imagination, the one where you invent stories? Is your first language for the mundane things, your second one for literature?

    1. Yes, and yes.

      But I don’t use my first language much… Only to converse with my mother and a few relatives. I live in a shadowy room where silence reigns supreme.

      I like how Romanian sounds – it’s a great language for poets and singers – but I don’t like how it looks on paper.

  18. It’s hard to believe you have only three years of English under your belt. If you’ve come this far this fast you obviously have it in you to become whatever you aspire to be. If writer it is, than writer it will be.

  19. I have fallen in love with your words, and am currently hoping that some waltzing butterflies might dance by my window…I’m not a writer but for some reason my heart felt happy when I read some of your words. Keep up the amazing work. Sending you a gregarious grasshopper to keep you company today…

  20. Thank you ..I really enjoyed that…you are very wise for one so young..I wish I knew at your age what I wanted to do. I am struggling so much..but starting to make progress…finally!

  21. That’s one of the purest and most beautiful understandings of writing I’ve ever heard.
    I’m not sure if you realize it now but you’ve created something marvellous of yourself. You yourself are your own project and your books will be its unique fruits.
    Immortality is just around the corner if you keep up the good work 😉

  22. Dear boy with a hat! You inspired me to open a blog with what you have written here! I don`t care if it`s a novel or a blog post that you write as long as you put that warm smile on our face and that glimpse of hope into our hearts. What a wisdom for such a young person! I have read many books on creativity so far but none of them has been able to give the effect you had on me. I declare you as my push button from now on! 🙂 hehehe

    And I am very honored to have mentioned you in my blog which only has 2 pages and only a post for now 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! Your words are so motivating, I`m also looking forward to learning more from you 😉

  23. That was an exceptionally insightful post…. It read more like a love letter to the art of writing. And somehow made me realize how inadequate I am as a writer……

  24. Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to
    make a great article… but what can I say… I put things
    off a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  25. No matter if some one searches for his essential
    thing, so he/she wants to be available that in detail, thus
    that thing is maintained over here.

  26. Hey, totally love this and keep on writing and yes, writing is first for your own soul and then maybe you get to share that with others. cheering you on and very inspiring story for sure. When you want something bad enough, nothing can stand in your way!

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