My favorite Barista was working today. She is a writer herself, though situations in her life have not allowed her to write much recently. Since the store was dead, we had a chance to talk before I began an unproductive writing session that left me tempted to dive into an oncoming SUV and call it a life.
Anyway. We began discussing the uncertainty of this writing - specifically, how does one justify spending so much time on a project with no guaranteed outcome. Nobody will dispute the amount of time it takes to write and sculpt a novel. And all writers are aware that time could be used for other things, specifically things that may yield more immediate results.
I don't remember much from twelfth grade Economics. I do remember discussing opportunity cost, or the cost of an activity measured by the value of the alternative forgone. By writing full-time, the income I would earn from what mortals consider a 'paying job' is my opportunity cost. So, in the eyes of some, writing this book is costing me a great deal of money.
Everyone with a dream will eventually find themselves at the same fork in the road - the one where we choose to either follow a dream or do something more practical. I went for the dream. And I don't regret it.
The only thing I have ever griped about is the uncertainty of writing a novel. Sometimes, I wish it worked like other careers - apply to agencies or publishing houses, pitch an idea, and get hired to write it if they become a fan. Man, wouldn't that be nice?
But for good reasons, it does not work that way. Nobody breaks into fiction until a book has been written. For some, it takes years - and others, a few months. Some rewrite a book ten times - others scrap books altogether. Some accumulate hundreds of rejection letters - others hit the jackpot in their first round of queries. We never know how the game will end, and for most of us, it's an unsettling feeling.
I try overlooking uncertainty by reminding myself nothing is guaranteed. Going to college and earning a degree doesn't guarantee you a job any more than writing a novel guarantees publication. The only thing we can do is continue pursuing our dreams and working toward our goals - the rest is out of our hands. The only way to abolish uncertainty is to stop trying. And then, we'll never know what might have been,
How do you overcome uncertainty?