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I’ll be the first to admit that not everyone can be Stephen King or J.K Rowling. I read somewhere once that the author of the ever-popular Harry Potter saga was worth more than the Queen of England—that doesn’t happen every day. Rowling is the youngest self-made female billionaire in history (or was at the height of the Harry Potter mania), and the novel that made her name (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) was conceived on a train and scribbled on napkins.
Not everyone can be her.
And not everyone can be the Bronte Sisters, Emily Dickinson, or other famous writers who were only famous after their deaths. Not everyone can be an author like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who actually enjoyed comfortable fame while he was living but whose stories about the clever detective with the funny hat and pipe have only soared to greater heights with the passage of time.
But don’t let this put you off.
They Did What They Loved . . . and Look Where They Are Now
This might not mean much coming from an aspiring novelist who hasn’t published anything of any real weight, but my philosophy about the workplace is simple: you only have one life to live, so make sure you live it doing what you love.
The writing process can be brutal. It’s challenging, emotionally draining, and sometimes the last thing in the world I want to do is sit down at a computer and hunt for words that just aren’t there. But even when I hate it, there’s nothing else I would rather do! The many published authors who have conquered writer’s block and fear of rejection doubtless feel the same way. There is nothing more thrilling than to structure a sentence that works just right, to pen a phrase that embodies a specific emotion, or to discover a new word that changes the meaning of an entire paragraph.
That might be just me. But I am following in the footsteps of fame, and I don’t intend to quit just because the odds are stacked against my publishing anything that will become an instant New York Times Bestseller. I am doing what I love, and even if I haven’t won a Pulitzer yet I find the process to be worth it a thousand times over.
After all, where would literary society be today if Victor Hugo had quit halfway through Les Miserables? If Mark Twain had decided to remain a riverboat pilot? If William Shakespeare had thought that writing a play would be too difficult?
Fortunately for us, Hugo finished his masterpiece. Mark Twain created Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer to undertake new riverboat adventures. Shakespeare wrote a play, and then wrote 36 more.
Do What You Love . . . and See Where You End Up
If you’re worried about money, don’t be. If you’re worried about what people might think, stop worrying. If you’re afraid you aren’t capable of succeeding, try anyway.
Figure out what you love, and then make it work. If you love to write but you have a family to support, try technical writing or content writing and do freelance writing on the side until you get your feet underneath you. When you get home from whatever 9-5 job that pays the bills, sit down and write your novel after the kids are in bed. When you make it big and your net worth jumps to $1 billion, you can quit being your local dentist’s receptionist and focus 100% on what you love.
It doesn’t matter what that is…just find something you’re passionate about. If you wander from job to job without really bothering to find something you can have fun with, you’ll likely end up in a dead-end position as a mailman in Bozeman or an auto insurance agent in Edmonton. (Unless you’re passionate about either one of those jobs. That’s fine too. Go and do.)
Don’t let your fear of failure get in the way of success. You can do anything as long as you have the right motivation, determination, and tenacity. Nothing is out of reach, especially if you love it enough to make it happen. Want to be a rocket scientist? Put in the study. Want to open your own salon? Practice cutting your friends’ hair and get good. Want to be a professional chef? Athlete? College professor? Find a way to make it happen.
Because there will always be a way. And you might just end up being more than you ever dreamed. Arthur Conan Doyle did not know that writing A Study in Scarlet would catapult Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson to the Literary Hall of Fame. And it’s unlikely that J.K. Rowling reread smudged scribbles about a bespectacled boy with a lightening scar and thought that he would ever become an international phenomenon.
All they knew was that they loved to write, and so they did.
About the Author
Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose pride and joy is her family. She loves reading, spending time with her husband and daughters, and learning new things about anything from insurance tips from Dyck Insurance to the proper placement of semi-colons from Chicago Manual of Style.