I didn't start writing because I wanted to make a living. I wasn't obsessed with dollar signs, camera flashes, and international recognition. I was an invisible kid walking through school halls where no one really liked him. Or maybe he just didn't feel liked. But when he went home, he used the internet to reach out to people like him, people who maybe didn't really feel liked in their environment either. They gathered around a common passion around a famous space fantasy saga. They created their own characters and weaved stories for them, taking them through trials and tribulations in a war-torn galaxy. The invisible kid did this most nights, in between MSN conversations with other people on the internet who didn't find him so invisible. Writing those stories was an outlet, they gave him something to put his energy into. It gave him people to connect with.
That's when I really started writing. I wrote almost every day, borrowing a universe to tell stories that mattered to me, channeling my grievances into space-faring heroes (and a scoundrel or two). Then adulthood happened, or a pseudo-version of the thing. I chose a major, went to school, got a job, and put my frustrations somewhere else. The weights, people, my work. It was downright ugly. I graduated, stuck in that job for a bit longer, then I left for promises of better work. That work never came. But I'd piled up a nice stack of savings, which let me survive for the next little while without having a job. I did just that. Then I went broke. But in the meantime, I got to try things, taste occupations and lifestyles that I'd never been exposed to before. I found writing again when I was looking for ways to make money (without having a dreaded job). I found a website called Fiverr, where freelancers sell their services for dirt cheap. I tried to find something I was good at, a service I could provide that people would actually pay for. I landed on writing because I couldn't really think of anything else.
Ironically, I sold my first story on Fiverr (it's still my only sale). It's a ghostwritten piece of erotica with...questionable themes. It sold for $120. To think that's my only sale, even now, is bittersweet. Because the thing is, I actually care about money now. I got back into writing fiction because I found a place looking to buy fiction. It was in this period of my life when I just tried whatever I could. I'd already sold a story, so I could do it again, right? It's been about a year since then. I've written most days in that year. I've been getting better. Haven't sold anything. I've got these grand plans for fame and fortune, not because they're valuable in themselves, but because they'll allow me to do certain things. Like paying back a mother who put me in a position to succeed, or being able to spend most of my days doing exactly what I want (which is writing, most of the time). The problem with setting these lofty goals; they blind me. I'm not making money yet, I don't have an audience yet, and that feels like a defeat. Nevermind that I'm writing nearly every day. Shouldn't that be a victory? A small one, but a victory nonetheless? I'm working at this thing that I love, this thing I can't really live without, every day of my life. That's a lofty, privileged position in itself.
The money makes things easier, makes me feel like what I'm doing is real and has value. I think I need to get the stars out of my eyes and focus on the stardust again.
In the spirit of that, expect a new free story next week.