I Love Chuck Wendig

There’s been a thread over on AW about writers writing full-time and some of the posts have been very frustrating to me because they basically say that this idea that if you try hard enough to be a writer that you’ll succeed is damaging and potentially harmful.  And they even border on accusing writers who choose to write full-time before they’re self-supporting as leeches taking advantage of either their family and friends or taxpayers instead of being responsible adults who go to their 9-5 job and suck it up like everyone else.

(For the record, I am not leeching off of anyone, thank you very much.  And the amount of taxes I’ve paid into the U.S. tax system over the past decade is enough to justify it if I did happen to need temporary assistance.  Not that I’d apply even if I needed it because, pride.  But still.  Very offensive to see those comments.)

I chose not to engage when the conversation took that turn.  It was clear to me that the people saying what they were saying weren’t looking to be convinced of anything.

So how does that relate to my ongoing love of Chuck Wendig?  Well, today he did a great post in reaction to a terrible post and it included the following:

“What I know is this: your desire matters. If you desire something bad enough, if you really want it, you will be driven to reach for it. No promises you’ll find success, but a persistent, almost psychopathic urge forward will allow you to clamber up over those muddy humps of failure and into the eventual fresh green grass of actual accomplishment.

Writers are not born. They are made. Made through willpower and work. Made by iteration, ideation, reiteration. Made through learning — learning that comes from practicing, reading, and through teachers who help shepherd you through those things in order to give your efforts context.

No, not everyone will become a success because nothing in life is guaranteed.

But a lack of success is not because of how you were born.

Writers are not a caste. They are not the chosen ones.

We work for what we want. We carve our stories out of stone, in ink of our own blood.”

What he said  is part of what I’d want to say to those nay-sayers on AW.

To me going full-time when you’re not making a full-time living at it yet is something you do because you have a core belief in your ability to get there.  Yeah, it doesn’t guarantee success.  (And I’ve mentioned it before, I’ll mention it again, Of Human Bondage made me cry.  The way that main character suffers while trying to pursue his art is a constant reminder to me of the price you pay if you don’t at least take care of your basic needs.)

Every person who has ever started a business has had to have the faith that the business would succeed.  Not just creatives, every person.

Often those people are wrong.  Look at the number of businesses that fail in their first year.

But what’s wrong with taking that risk?  Why are people so negative about someone willing to bet on themselves?  Someone who has a vision for the future and reaches for it?

Is it just because we’re talking about a creative endeavor?

Many businesses are based upon a creative approach.  Half the reason I did as well as I did in my corporate career was because I was creative.  I was always finding the new and better solution.

Being creative isn’t just about painting or writing poetry.


I think I’m ranting.  And not coherently.

I guess it’s one thing for me to doubt myself and question my choices.  It’s another when anyone else does.

Then again, I know me.  I know what I’ve done.  Those random negative voices out there don’t.  (If I’d listened to them I’d probably have one or two less college majors than I do and have never quit my job in 2009 to go backpacking–a choice that led to no longer traveling 48 weeks a year, being able to live near my family, and almost doubling my income that next year.  Best decision I ever made.  So…whatever.)

Failure is always a possibility.  But if you never take the risk, you never know what you can do.

My life.  My risks.  My consequences.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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2 Responses to I Love Chuck Wendig

  1. Dave Higgins says:

    There are also that category of full-time writers who chose not to waste an opportunity. While many full-time writers gave up another job to pursue more writing, others lost their job and have decided to use the extra time more profitably than sending out CVs.

    • M. H. Lee says:

      Yep. In my MBA program there was a class on entrepreneurship and every week the professor would bring in someone who had started a successful business (by his definition worth $50 million or more). By the end of the semester I’d lost count of how many of the stories started with “I was laid off and I took my severance and…” That’s often the best possible time to choose to pursue a dream.

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