After Stephen King wrote Carrie, he published under a pseudonym to see if people were buying his books because he was a good writer or because they said “STEPHEN KING” in bold type. Harper Lee took 55 years to follow up To Kill a Mockingbird for fear of publication. John Green published a wonderful video on failing to follow up The Fault in Our Stars with anything, because he’s not sure that he can.
If you think that the “rich and famous” aren’t racked with the same insecurities as you are right now, you are lying to yourself. It is simultaneously depressing and comforting to know this, because it means 1) That the high and mighty are fragile human beings like you, but also 2) That writing will not cure your insecurities, in some cases may heighten them, and even after you ascend to Mount Olympus to be with the gods of writing, you may still be plagued by the idea that you are only a mere mortal who accidentally snuck past the ticket checker.
Writing won’t fix your problems. Success won’t fix them. Fame won’t fix them.
Validation never comes. That’s why one of the chief pleasures of the writing business is that you have to simultaneously create the job that you do. If you would like to simply show up to a job and be told what it means, that’s fine, too, and there are plenty of people that make great livings that way. But if you want to make a living being a writer, you have to create your own meaning of the job while doing the job.
Deciding what writing means to you is not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
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