Naysayers & Negative Nellies

My grandmother used to use that term, “Negative Nellie”, anytime we didn’t want to do something or we thought it was too hard. When I wanted to be a writer, back when I was a kid, I ran into a lot of naysayers who I then allowed myself to turn me into a Negative Nellie where writing is concerned.

With the holidays coming up, thoughts turning sometimes not so pleasantly to having family around for the next 6-8 weeks, I started thinking about younger years, yesterday, growing up. I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. I had forgotten for a time that being a writer was ever a dream I’d had as a child, because it wasn’t encourage or supported. Admittedly, at one time, I wanted to be a painter/drawer too. Funny that, since I really wanted to do that so I could illustrate my books.

Still, if I had said, “I want to be a journalist,” and then went to college and majored in journalism, and then got a job on a paper or magazine, that would have been okay with the naysayers.

If I had wanted to be a columnist or a staff writer for a publication, and I went to college, got a degree in some type of technical or non-fiction writing or English, got a job on the ground floor and worked my way up, the naysayers would have been okay with that too.

But that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to be a writer.

So what happened?

Well, I was told, basically, that writing was a hobby, not a job. I liked writing poetry. There’s no money in poetry! (this is mostly true) I liked telling stories. There’s no money in telling stories! (as Rowling if there’s money) I liked writing.

There’s no money in writing!

Well, for long years, I believed that. I went to college, got a job, advanced in my career. I made decent money eventually, but man, there was a time in my life I was borrowing eggs from one neighbor and potatoes from another just to scrape together some dinner and having to borrow a few bucks to have gas to drive to the job interview while raising two kids alone.

Eventually, though, I did struggle out of the grind, landed a decent job in one place, climbed upward, upward, upward… and then walked away from a major corporation to start a freelance career.

I’ve never looked back.

The only regret: I wish I’d stared writing sooner.

Everything happens in time though.

I wouldn’t be here now if I’d continued to believe the naysayers. I was single when I first started freelancing on my own, but very shortly after, I ended up in a relationship with someone who said he supported my writing, and in fact, he did read it and tell me how good it was, but when I had to put time into my writing, because I was spending so much time writing. Writing was all I did. Well, that and editing, but to me, they sorta go hand in hand. Anyway, I would wake up and immediately start writing and I would write through dinner, through the night, sometimes not even stopping to go to bed.

Yes, sometimes I would crash and burn for a time, exhausted from the writing, but I was THAT determined. My partner at the time was not a true partner in the sense of working together toward a common goal. I was constantly chastised for spending too much time at the computer, too much time writing. “Do you want me to succeed or not?”

Apparently, not. He cheated on me with someone else, and quite frankly, I was too busy writing to notice much. He eventually left, and I turned that into more writing – more fuel and fodder for my stories and poetry.

And then, finally, I had gotten out the years of frustration and pent up emotion… and I was able to settle down to a regular routine. The income was slow coming in, but once it started rolling in, it just kept coming.

And I haven’t looked back since.

Today, I’ve replaced my corporate income, and then some. I have four minor books published (still hoping to get a major publisher and sign with an agent by the end of 2009), and I do what I love every day of the week, from my home, surrounded by family who loves me and supports me – now.

I made a choice. I had to decide what I was willing to give up for the sake of my writing. See, my tagline, “I am a writer. It’s not what I do; it’s who I am!” is more than just a tagline. It IS who I am.

My choice was: write or die. So when it finally came to that point, the naysayers meant nothing to me anymore.

Thanksgiving, last year, I presented my mother with a copy of my fourth book. She flipped through it and said, “You’re strange.”

I said, “You know, my friends and the folks on my writers forum, they don’t think I’m strange. They think I’m talented.”

My mother said, laughing, “Well, they’re strange too.”

Now…. If I can keep writing after a conversation like that, are naysayers really an excuse to stop for you?

There IS money to be made as a writer. If you want to make it as a writer, the naysayers will mean nothing to you but a challenge to prove them wrong.

So this holiday season, when the family asks you, “So… what are you doing with yourself these days?”

Proudly stick your chest out, smile with a twinkle in your eye and declare, “I am a writer!”

Make no apologies for following your dreams – ever.

Keep writing!

Oh, and if you’re looking for an interesting idea for a gift for your family this Christmas, something special just for your kinfolk, check out this great idea Amy Browne had for her family by clicking here.

Love and stuff,