Brain Babies: A Crisis of Faith (in Oneself)


Recently, a writer friend (who shall remain nameless because I didn’t ask if I could talk about this) stated that they might just be done trying to be a writer. The reason they gave (see how careful I’m being about using gender-neutral pronouns?) was that the industry seems driven by cronyism (my word choice) and numbers (I imagine this is alluding to boosting sales via pushing rankings on the various book-buying platforms, but again, I didn’t ask).

I said, in a nutshell, Hey! Don’t let that stuff get you down. I said that, while I haven’t made more than a few thousand (dollars, not words – I’ve made a few hundred thousand of those) over the last five years, I’ve made some amazing connections with some super-cool people. Hell, I even wrote a book with one of them. We are still impatiently waiting for that to come out. I also said that what really matters, to me anyway, are the readers.

So what if I’m not ever going to be a New York Times bestselling author? So what if I never quit my day job (I actually like my day job. How crazy is that?)? So what if they never make a movie out of one of my stories? Again. I’d like to point out here that there is, in fact, a 16-minute short film out there that I wrote, co-directed, co-produced, and acted in. It’s on YouTube, all free and shit. Called “The Quirk and the Dead.” It’s a horror/comedy, zombie love story. Go check it out. I can wait. No, really. It’s funny.

(Sixteen minutes later.)

Good, right? Thanks. I’m really proud of that one. It was nominated for an award at one of the film festivals. Didn’t win, but that’s cool.

I’ve completely lost track of where I was going with this. Oh yeah! Why we write. I remember now.

So, I said to this person, and am clearly elaborating far more here (and plugging my movie – did you watch it? No? What are you waiting for? Go. This will still be here.), the reason we write is not to get famous. It’s not to make a bunch of money.

It’s for the readers.

When someone reads something of mine, someone I’ve never met before, someone maybe on the other side of the world, takes the time to seek me out, to tell me something I wrote moved them in some way… My god – that is an amazing thing.

So, I tried to impart to this other writer, who was clearly experiencing a crisis of faith in themselves, that it’s not about the numbers, or who you know (their words this time). It’s about the readers.

It’s about getting the words out, and trying to make each new story better than the last. It’s about sharing these crazy little Brain Babies with the world and maybe, just maybe, connecting with someone who just gets it.

So, my fellow scribes, wordsmiths, hacks (I use this in the complimentary way, like when you’re such good friends with someone you say, “What’s up, dickhead?” – Other people do this, right? It’s not just me?), if ever you are feeling (and who among us does not, from time to time) that the whole thing is worthless, pointless, that you’re never going to “make it”, take heart. It’s not about you, babe. It’s about the reader. That’s why we are doing this.

Never forget that.

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4 Responses

  1. Rob Santana says:

    What a cool, funny article, Ken. Enjoyed it.

  2. Thanks, Rob! I appreciate that.

  3. Emma says:

    Indeed a cool, funny (and very true) article. It’s very uplifting to someone like me who is in a daily battle anyway (anxiety & depression since…well, who knows when!) and also with those exact demons.
    But, it’s true, I don’t write for fame (and I’ve not as yet earned a penny). I write because it’s what I love to do, and I want to share it with other people (even though that scares the absolute bejeezuss out of me, cos of low self esteem also -yep, I’m a mess-!).
    Oh dear.
    I’m off to watch your movie 🙂

  4. I’m glad to hear it resonated with you. I think most of write because we love it! Getting paid is just gravy, if/when we do.
    Enjoy the movie!