The Shadowland of Dreams
Many a young person tells me he wants to be a writer.I always encourage such people,but I also explain that there’ a big difference between “being a writer” and writing.In most cases these individuals are dreaming of wealth and fame,not the long hours alone at the typewriter.“You’ve got to want to write,”I say to them, “not want to be a writer.”
The reality is that writing is a lonely, private and poor-paying affair.For every writer kissed by fortune,there are thousands more whose longing is never requited.Even those who succeed often know long periods of neglect and poverty.I did.When I left a 20-year career in the Coast Guard to become a freelance writer,I had no prospects at all.What I did have was a friend with whom I’d grown up in Henning, Tennessee.George found me my home —a cleaned-out storage room in the Greenwich Village apartment building where he worked as superintendent.
It didn’t even matter that it was cold and had no bathroom.Immediately I bought a used manual typewriter and felt like a genuine writer.After a year or so, however,I still hadn’t received a break and began to doubt myself.It was so hard to sell a story that I barely made enough to eat.
But I knew I wanted to write.I had dreamed about it for years.I wasn’t going to be one of those people who die wondering,“What if?” I would keep putting my dream to the test —even though it meant living with uncertainty and fear of failure.This is the Shadowland of hope,and anyone with a dream must learn to live there.