Last weekend I went to a goodbye party for a friend who was moving to China. I got to meet a lot of new people, which allowed for the always long story of where I'm from, what I'm doing, and what I want to be doing (seriously, I never think my life is complicated until I start telling this story. And usually I just skip the bit about England).
I got talking with my friend's dad about how I wanted to be a writer, and he said, "That's a tough career. A lot of people try it, and very few can make any money off it."
And I said, "That's true, which is why I think the key to having a sustainable writing career is to diversify, produce everything from screenplays to short stories so you can tap into the market from all angles."
And as he was nodding his head, all I could think was WHAT? Where did that come from? I've never said that before in my life, and I don't even really think it's true. I said it because I was to scared to admit to this person, who has relatives in the film business and legitimately knows how difficult it is, that I'm gambling a whole lot of time and energy on something that could turn out to be a big black hole. I couldn't say, "Yeah, screenwriting is more commonly a source of frustration than money but I'm going to do it anyway," because I didn't want to sound like some starry-eyed high schooler with her fingers crossed for NYU. So I made something up and just sounded dumb.
I do write more than screenplays. I write short stories and sometimes novel excerpts and these amazing blog posts, but it's not because I think I'm going to make a career out of them. It's because I enjoy all those modes of storytelling. I'm still learning not to be embarrassed about being a writer, even about being an unpublished/unproduced writer. I hope that next time someone says, in essence, "Oh you want to be a writer? That's a tough field," I'll be able to say, "You're right, it is. And I'm going to rock it out anyway."
PS. I finished that short story I've been working on. It's 18 pages of mess, but it's also 18 pages of awesome. Maybe you guys can't tell from my blogs, but I'm really not half bad.