The Struggle is Real

There really is a Star Wars meme for everything...
I'm not so out of touch and unhip that I don't know the phrase "the struggle is real" is an ironic one meant to be used whenever the struggle isn't real, or worse, when the "struggle" is ridiculous. But the truth that we should hold onto amongst all our sarcasm and cynicism is that yes, the struggle really is real. We all have struggles, every day. Some are as simple as getting up in the morning and dragging your ass to work. Some are harder, like struggling to make ends meet or struggling between what you want and what you need and how to prioritize the two. So the question is, why am I bringing this up? What am I struggling with? I struggle with money constantly. I struggle within myself over hoping I'm being the best boyfriend I can be to the wonderful woman who loves me. And yes, I struggle over getting my ass up and to work in the morning when I do have a job to go to. But, above everything else, there's one question I've really been struggling with lately.

Am I really a writer?

Yeah, this is going to be one of those honest, personal posts.

I think about this a lot. What do I do that makes me a writer? Sure, I write unpaid movie reviews. and before you say it: yes, I know getting paid isn't really the mark of a writer, despite what my entire family and everyone else I've ever met who wasn't some kind of artist says. I enjoy writing the movie reviews, and I put a good amount of effort and creativity into them, so there must be something there, but that's really it. I mean, yeah, there's this blog, but in the last seven or eight months it's basically just become a repost site for the movie reviews. Yeah, there are the book reviews, but I completely half-ass those because really, who am I to criticize the work of a writer who has actually finished a novel? Not counting the reviews, I haven't finished a single writing project since 2009, and even that was just a 19-page story that was my senior thesis I had no choice but to finish if I ever wanted to graduate.

And let's let this thing sink in for a minute: that 19-page story is the single longest thing I've ever actually finished.

Yeah, I did that short story series almost three years ago now, but those were all less than ten pages and, while I might have finished ten of them, I had plotted out twenty and I just dropped the ball halfway through the story. And honestly, most of that was to impress a girl with my creativity anyway. So again, I have to ask, what makes me a writer? If I even am one anymore, that is.

I tried doing NaNoWriMo (that's National Novel Writing Month, wherein one tries to write a 50,000-word novel over the course of November, for those of you who might not know) for the second time this year. Last year, I got as far as a plot and never actually put a word down on paper. This year, I managed approximately 5,600 words, as you can see by the counter on the side of the blog, and dropped it. I only even managed that much because I was working at a temp assignment where I had a LOT of free time (much like how I'm writing this right now, coincidentally), and the drop hit as soon as that assignment ended and I was left to spend my days at home watching TV and movies and reading comics instead of writing.

Does that make me a writer? Because it doesn't sound like it to me.

I don't know. I have no shortage of story ideas, but I never seem to take them anywhere. I watch friends I've known for years do things with their writing, find outlets, get published, whatever; I'm happy for them, and yes, even jealous, but it doesn't push me to follow their lead. I've even let opportunities pass me by because I just didn't feel like writing what I needed to write. For years I've said that all I've been waiting for is a story I really want to tell, and that's when I'll get into high gear and write. But I've been saying that for well over a decade now. How long does that get to be something I mean before it turns into just an excuse? I'm not getting any younger, you know, which is something I've become painfully aware of lately. So am I really a writer?

The truth is I don't think I know anymore.

So yeah, the struggle is real.


  1. If you MUST write. If you cannot go without putting words down on something, somewhere. Then you are a writer. It may not make you a successful author, but it is an intrinsic part of your identity nonetheless. I struggle with this myself on a regular basis. Especially when all I was writing were horrible blogs for even more horrible companies and they were nameless, faceless regurgitations of information I found somewhere else on the internet--nameless, faceless regurgitations I was getting paid for, but is THAT really writing? You are most definitely a writer my friend. It is the way we look at the world, the love affair we have with the language, it is who we are in the deepest darkness of sleepless nights. It's what we turn to when we are joyful, when we are in the midst of tragedy, and when we simply have nothing better to do. --That being said, why not start working on a script for April for the podcast? ;)

    1. The thing is, I'm almost always looking for something to do other than writing. That's why I seem to only actually get anything done while I'm at work.

      And I have the seeds of an idea for the podcast, but I worry I'll end up giving up halfway through the third script and just leave you all hanging. Plus, it's not like you've sent me any of the examples of how to write the damn thing you promised me, or even the podcast itself :p

  2. Since you're posting publicly, and it's a post from the heart, I'll answer it brutally honestly as well. To me, this sounds like a discipline issue more than anything else. I "launched" my company in 2011. And by that, I mean that I set up a website. I don't know what the expectation was...oh wait, yes I do. I thought that because I had a website, business would just come flying in. The truth is, that in order to get success at anything, whether it be get published, or get clients in advertising, you have to work your ass off. In 2011, I was pretty much addicted to FIFA soccer. I was the best motherfucking FiFA soccer PS3 player out there. I was a badass. So much so, that I'd get home from work, and play into the night. I enjoyed it. It was easy. And still...I thought that eventually somehow the business would stroll in.

    My turning point was realizing that I'm getting absolutely nothing out of the video games. I sold my PS3, and then I rebought it, because the "addiction was real", and re-sold it again. I forced myself to commit 2 hours every day to get better at what I wanted to accomplish. This is after work. So instead of FIFA, now it was self lessons of the adobe creative suite, designing/developing print/digital ads for no one, learning fonts. Then during my lunch time at work, I decided to start cold calling clients. I redesigned my website 3 times.

    Guess what happened...I got a client. Then I volunteered to do work for free for my village, and they introduced me to people, who introduced me to people. All of a sudden there was a little bit more momentum. Am I killing it? Not yet. But I see that there is a payoff in sight.

    Are you a writer? Maybe. But are you lazy? What are you really getting from watching TV or movies? I'm not saying give up all fun. But force yourself, legitimately to write. And if you don't like it more than watching TV or movies or whatever...then you're not a writer.

    People see a writer publish a book, or write an amazing ad, and all they see is the finished product. What they don't see are the hours and hours of work that goes into it. And it's not just for writing, it's everything. To get good at anything, you have to absolutely push yourself, because if you don't, there's about a million people who are.

    My challenge for you is to take a month, and lock yourself somewhere for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week and write. Stop watching tv as much. Say no to some of the movies. And if at the end of the month you still hate it and you're not getting anything on paper, then I'd say, find something else that you love, and do that for 2 hours a day for 5 days a week. After work. When you're tired. When you don't want to. Because to succeed, you have to.

    1. There's a lot to think about there. A lot of what you describe is, in essence, what NaNoWriMo is supposed to force a writer into doing. The trick when it comes to giving things up is, the movie reviews are easily the most successful aspect of my writing to date, the closest I'm getting to an actual career in this, you know? And TV reviews and posts are another aspect of that. So I suppose you, perhaps inadvertently, raised another question I need to think about in addition to "Am I really a writer," which is, essentially, "What kind of writer am I?"

      So thanks for making this even harder. Jerk :p

  3. Every writer struggles, and no I am not picking that word, cause it's the title of your post. But, if writing truly is a passion of yours, then keep it up. Look, I make so very little off of writing, but, and I know you agree with me, it's not about cash. It is, however, about doing something you love.

    Maybe a break is needed, but if that writing bug comes calling back, then go back to it. One should never stop doing what brings them joy, in a sometimes joyless world.

    We can discuss this more over a beer one of these days, if you want. :)

    1. It's funny. You're 1000% right about it not being about the money, and yet I feel like if I was getting paid even a pitiful amount for the movie reviews, or even just the price of the tickets, I'd feel more accomplished. And yet reviews for one site got me involved in the horror awards (something I really should talk to you about as I can't think of a person more born to be involved in that than you lol), and that's only over the last seven months or so, so for all I know the next step on the ladder could be a day or week around the corner.

      And beers are always welcome. One of these days I'm working in the city we should get together after work or something.


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