Acclaimed sportswriter Red Smith said, “Writing is easy; you just open a vein and bleed.”
As it turns out, Red was right — writing is a lonely, sometimes soul-sucking battle. Throughout my writing history, the main players have been myself, a pen, a legal pad and a laptop. After years of trying to master the craft, I have learned only a few things:
- Mastery is impossible,
- My best writing is first produced by hand in the middle of the night, and
- I love this, even when I hate it.
On the eve of my fourth semester of college, I have realized that growing up to do what I love is more difficult (and more expensive) than I ever imagined. College has taken a lot of mental, physical and financial strain lately. It has both affirmed that my lifelong love of writing will one day be my full time job, and has made me question, more than ever, whether I really belong in this atmosphere.
As it turns out, loving what I do may not be enough to make me blissfully happy for the rest of my life.
I am in a lucky minority of people who have always known what they would do with their life. I am also in the vast majority of people (especially college kids) who consistently question whether they made the right decision, as it is absolutely terrifying to throw that much money, time and effort toward a piece of paper that will somehow impact the rest of your life.
As it turns out, sometimes I really, really hate what I do.
Like many kids my age, my mind is usually bursting with insecurities and anxieties. I wonder when my ideas will run dry, when my GPA will fall flat, when the ninth re-write won’t be worth it, when the next-great-American-writer will emerge from the shadows and take every good writing job in the world ever created (this is a reasonable thing to worry about, right?).
As it turns out, sometimes doing what you love is going to absolutely suck.
And when it does suck — which it will — just know that the sucking will not last, but neither will the satisfaction of a job-well-done. Doing what you love is not the key to everlasting bliss, but it is usually the start of some pretty damn good times. As long as those good times outweigh the moments of absolute, soul-crushing suck, then keep on keeping on, because there’s gotta be a reason you dedicated your life to this crazy-expensive piece of paper, or business venture, or cross-country expedition, right?
So, please, do what you love because the love will manifest in your work. Do what you love when you hate it, do what you love when you’re about to throw in the towel, and do what you love when it absolutely sucks. It will be worth it.
Another incredible journalist, John White, once said to my class of aspiring writers, “Life ain’t a dress rehearsal. Do it. And put love in everything you do.”
Even when you don’t think you can anymore.