This was originally going to be a much more depressing entry, but fortunately for all of us, I read some stuff that brightened my mood earlier today. Seriously, it's much better that way. I was going to open up with lyrics from Social Distortion's 'Ball and Chain' - "I'm born to lose, and destined to fail". Aren't you glad I didn't do that?
I think a lot of us have realized that some people just don't know what to say to writers. Someone recently told me that, even if I never make it as a writer, I'd have spent my life with an amazing hobby. I laughed it off, because really, there was no other acceptable response. I know they meant well, but seriously, a hobby? No. Keeping universes in my head is not a hobby. Creating worlds is not a hobby. Agonizing over the lives of fictional people is not a hobby. It's an obsession. :P
It's also the only thing I've ever well and truly wanted to do with my life.
I've talked about failure before. I've accepted that I might fail, that I could spend my entire life writing stuff that nobody ever reads. It's one of the few things that scares me on a gut-tightening, mouth-drying kind of level. But there's a real difference between acknowledging that possibility to myself and having someone else bring it up.
Maybe it's just superstition - like not saying something aloud if you don't want it to happen. Hearing someone else say that I could fail makes it more real. And let's be honest here - I don't exactly have a great track record. I had one short story published by a small-press magazine back in 2007. Absolutely nothing since then, though part of that is because I hate writing short stories. So while I might be obscure instead of completely unknown, that's not saying much, not in this business.
I know that self-publishing is an option, but I don't want to do that. While I know that my duties as a published writer will be more than just writing and editing, I don't want to have to handle every single aspect of publishing - there are people who are much better at all of that than I am, and I'd rather they do their jobs via an actual publisher, not via me paying for their help as I fumble through the process.
So, yeah. I'm 35 now. I could die, in 30 or 40 or 65 years or anywhere before or in between or beyond, without getting anything published again ever. I'm pretty sure I hit the million-word mark years ago, and I'm surely well on my way toward two million. And with everything I write, with every plot I put together, with every project I finish and either set aside to edit later or abandon and lament, the question hangs over my head. Every year, every month, every day, it hangs a little lower.
"What if I fail?"
For the record: I don't plan to find out.