Today a young hopeful spoke to me, indicating his desire to find a career as a writer. We all know the initial response. We are torn, wanting to encourage the youth to follow his dream, to create, to push. Yet we know the road ahead, and it pains us to think of this young person facing the tribulations he must. Still, our paths must be our own, and so, with this I offered a few words of what I believed to be encouragement. It occurred to me only after; did I fail him in offering such advice?
I was forced to find my own way at the beginning. Once, I threw away, yes, completely trashed two entire novels (100k and 150k words roughly) in a moment of self doubt. Of course, having this experience changed my approach completely. After this, I stopped writing completely for some years, deciding for myself that I was not skilled enough for the field.
We are our own worst enemy at times. Yet without this memory, I would lack the knowledge I gained from it. Only after I spoke to the aspiring writer, telling him not to throw out his works in moments of weakness and doubt did I wonder if I did him an injustice. Of course, my intentions were pure, but we know the proverbial path to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps I denied him a moment of self actualization in my efforts to aid him. Do we stifle the progress of others in our attempts to aid them? We cannot know.
We force ourselves upon society like the needy creatures we are. Perhaps we should not be so quick to offer ourselves in this way as we cannot know the influence we will have. The ego is a powerful device. I wonder, had I been encouraged from the start, how my work may have suffered. In this, I am ever cautious with my writers. Why should it be any different from aspiring writers? If you require the encouragement, perhaps you don’t want it badly enough.
In my experience I learned that there must come a time when you have no reason for hope, no reason to carry on. It is in that moment that we are faced with a choice. We may give up, even for a time, or we may choose to push forward, knowing we have no reason to. That moment changes a person. Only after coming through the other side of that did I realize that yes, the dream was worth fighting for, even if I must fight alone.
Still, we cannot know our influence, and I can say that being encouraged in later years has given me the extra motivation to keep going. Even at times now, I battle the demon that says ‘this is no good, you should scrap it all and give up, you’ll never succeed’. In my case, it was important to make the decision to stick with it when no one else was in my court. Perhaps in the case of this young writer, I did no harm. Certainly he could make use of the information given, specific publications to look into, etc.
When remembering those rejection letters, the answer was clear. I would continue encouraging any aspiring writers, I would offer what advice I may, and hope for the best. If that moment comes and he chooses to give up, perhaps he was always going to anyway. Only he can make that choice for himself, as we all did. So, writers, don’t give up. Keep pushing, if it’s worth it to you, you’ll do it. Ask questions, take advice,and keep challenging yourself. Keep encouraging every writer you have the opportunity to, just a few kind words could save a story from being unread, forgotten and discarded. That is a grand calling. Never stop writing, nor encouraging others to do so. If it’s what you want, you’ll find a way.to make it happen.