Happy Independence Day!
Image from michellehenry.fr
No, you don’t have to check your calendars. It isn’t the 4th of July today. I’m wishing you an early Happy Independence Day because the 4th happens to fall on a Wednesday, which is dedicated to my Wednesday Writers Workspace Series, and which I’ve already promised to blogging buddy Bish Denham.
While the United States celebrates its birthday, its independence from Great Britain, I ponder on what independence means for me as a writer.
The creative path is never easy, and the road to publication one of the hardest to travel on. Some writers gain success in a short time, but most writers will tell you that it took them years to get to where they are. Writers give up many comforts in order to follow a dream—one based on the strength of their will and the power of their imagination.
While writing is often a solitary task, it is never an independent one. Writers often have to lean on others while they struggle to get published. Time, money and encouragement are necessary elements in a writing career, and writers always find themselves in need of one or all of them.
Every writer aims for independence. I know I do.
I’d like to wake up at the hour I choose and walk ten feet to get to the office, and get paid well to do something I love. Instead, I drive 20 miles in traffic to go to work, and get paid peanuts for a job I really don’t enjoy.
I’d like to be free of financial worries. I daydream of a day when I don’t have to worry about money and being able to pay for my necessities. I often find myself having to choose between paying the bills and attending a helpful conference. Luckily, I have generous friends who come to my rescue.
Sometimes I get impatient, and I long to get to the end of the road. I just want to get published and I want to be financially independent so I can repay all the people who’ve helped me so much. But I know it takes time to craft a story, much more to come up with one that other people would be willing to pay for.
And I know that I cannot rush the creative process, because I do not want to disregard the most important freedom I have–the freedom to express myself.
Every writer aims for independence, but even after they get published, and even after they earn enough money to quit their jobs, they will still need to depend on other people for support. They’ll need to rely on loved ones to help them out with things when they’re short on time and to keep them sane through the rollercoaster ride that is their career.
American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson once said, “It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing — that’s the Lord’s test.”
When I remember that I don’t have a book to my name, or money to pay the bills, it’s easy to forget the truth about writing and independence.
Writing allows me a freedom that money cannot buy. It enables me to create universes, bring to life characters, make up my own rules, and play God with words. Writing allows me to share my life story using my own voice or someone else’s. Writing allows me to be anyone, to assume another’s identity, to disguise events in my life and change them so that my story has a happy ending.
Whether I succeed as an author or not, my writing dream is one I’d never give up, because I know the truth:
As a writer, I am independent in a way that other people can never be.
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