Fifteen years ago I was teaching middle school English. I learned this:
It is not enough to love office supplies - to be intoxicated by the smell of felt tip pens and the feel of a hundred paper clips in your hands. To covet every color of post-it pads and have file drawers filled with neatly marked manilla envelopes.
It is not enough to love books and reading and the way language fits together like the most amazing puzzle ever, and how all of that can change a life.
It is not enough to be thrilled by long linoleum hallways and desks lined like wooden soldiers and the draw of colored chalk across a newly cleaned board.
It is not enough, even, to love the kids.
There is a factor you just can't name that makes a person born to teach.
It's like that with writing books, too.
You can love the click of the keys (Oh how I love that sound!!).
You can love to watch the story form across the screen or bleed out onto a piece of paper.
You can love your characters as though they were closer than family and friends.
You can love plotting and summarizing and outlining and even querying.
You can know the high that is like no other when your full manuscript prints out page after page.
But at the end of the day, writing – like teaching – is something emotional. Something you feel... sometimes too deeply. At the end of the day, there is a weighing of heartache and joy, the future and the past.
It's an investment of your heart as much as your time.
While there might be times you can merely "clock in" and do the work, there is greater time when you invest your entire being into it, mind, heart and body.
And anytime you put your raw self on the line, there is going to be times when the uphill battle seems like it may not be worth it.
How do you know you are doing what you are meant to do? And how do you keep going when you get slapped down?