It always surprises me how some people react when they hear that I’m a writer or that I have an independent publishing company. It’s as if I’ve suddenly revealed that I’m a trust-fund baby and have never worked for a living. What kind of misconceptions exist that people believe writers are all wealthy? So far, I’ve lost more money than I’ve earned from the publishing side of things, and while that is going to change soon, it’s going to change because of years of hard work and due diligence, not because someone handed me anything.
Another misconception I sometimes encounter is the misguided notion that writing is easy. In my experiences both with myself and other writers I know well, here are the ingredients for a talented writer: 1) a truly difficult childhood involving a healthy mix of psychological abuse and social ostracism; 2) at least one severe health issue during childhood that forces confinement in bed for at least a month; 3) an overactive imagination that borders on schizophrenia; 4) dependency issues with at least one but usually more mood-altering substances; 5) long-term struggles with depression; 6) a deep and palpable feeling of never truly belonging anywhere for very long; 7) delusions of grandeur that what you have to say actually matters; 8 ) a thick outer shell to weather the storm of ridicule, criticism, and doubt that will hammer you from all directions; 9) a willingness to sit alone for hours on end and tell yourself a story; and 10) the dedication to your craft through financial struggles that make mere survival a challenge.
Personally, I have often thought that if either of my sons end up as writers, I will feel like a failure as a parent. My hope is that they are well-adjusted accountants with manicured lawns and deep roots in their communities.