Photo by Bruce Christianson on Unsplash

How Does It Feel To Be The Only Writer In the Family?

Writing is a lonely path. As Ernest Hemingway puts it, “If I started to write elaborately… I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away…” Nobody could understand what’s going on inside our heads.

Why do we have to sit in front of our laptops, our PCs, our desks all day long?

Why don’t we get to move and go outside our bedrooms and talk to other people about senseless topics we never bother to think or care about them?

What’s with us?

This is why I wrote this post. I want to express how it feels to be the only writer in the family. Literally. I’m the only one in the family who bravely chose a road not taken by most of them.

Let my great ancestors know that the black sheep has come to break the family chain of teachers, engineers, and farmers.

I want to tell them that options are available to make an income aside from doing the boring system. Graduate college. Get a job. Working for 40 years. Retire. Die.

Not only I started writing for nothing, but I also made a substantial amount of money to support my needs. When I began my writing career, I was in an overwhelming situation where almost everyone doubted and discouraged my decision.

“Go back to teaching. That’s what you worked hard for 4 years in college.”

“Why are you wasting time on your computer to write something for nothing? Are you earning more?”

“You are intelligent. It dissatisfies me to see my daughter unemployed.”

I’ve asked my grandparents, their siblings, my relatives who knew my great grandparents, everyone. All of them told me that nobody writes nor makes a living from it. There’s no journalist, author, content writer, or essayist in the clan.

That surprised me though. Let’s say, it’s been a century since my great grandparents lived. Does that mean that within 100 years nobody has ever chosen a different path?

As I traced the line and connected the dots, most of them chose the safest and more practical life. They chose what’s available, avoiding circumstances that will test them and the strength of their dreams.

I thought my life as a writer is a common thing. But as I went deeper into my research, the surviving grandmothers (my grandmother’s younger siblings), proved it’s been like that as far as they could remember.

We are a family of farmers, teachers, and engineers. All successful professionals but neither of them tried a different path.

Then, I looked back and sat on the chair with my fingers threaded; my eyes on the horizon. I realized that by pursuing my writing career it has never been this tough yet exciting.

Who is a writer?

A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation is a writer. This is an accepted definition. Also, he or she is a person who writes something to be published.

Someone who writes is a writer. Jeff Goins repeatedly mentioned it on his blog. He said that to start being a writer, start writing. This is easier said than done, though.

From there, you could get an idea of who a writer is. That’s only by definition. It’s what everybody knows on casual terms. What does it entail to become one?

Writer’s Loneliness

Becoming a writer requires isolation. We, writers, need to have our space to think about what we have to write down on a piece of paper.

We can’t properly function in a surrounding filled with noises and distractions. We can’t produce a written craft if we’re not mentally prepared.

You may not understand the fact that writing fiction, for example, requires a lot of emotional turmoil on our part.

When I wrote “Accidental Quest” in 2018, I had to undergo a series of breakdowns to make it through the 32nd chapter, the last one.

After finishing the whole manuscript, I cried. It was an enthralling feeling, an unexplainable euphoria. It was a miracle I survived the writing tunnel while keeping my sanity. A non-writer couldn’t understand a thing about this.

If you are a writer, a single piece — be it a blog post, a guest post, a review, a book, an essay, whatever — is an attachment from yourself. Therefore, you can’t bear the pain if others reject your work because your heart is in it.

Now, how about my family?

How do they perceive my life as a writer?

At first, it was unacceptable. My decision to quit my professional life was an absolute dismaying event of their lives.

For me, it was like an overachiever understands the bigger picture of her life. It was time for me to explore myself to know myself better based on what I can do.

They couldn’t understand why. Why would an overachiever quit the chances of joining the corporate workforce for a lowly writing career? What’s worse? I spend a month or two writing many posts for Lifehack without pay.

I sat down in front of my small laptop for hours working on a single blog post only to get nothing from it except for a published name.

In the eyes of my parents and all the close relatives, this was BS. They couldn’t get why I worked so hard on something without receiving payments at all. To them, it’s unfair. To me, it is.

Writing for free serves as the foundation of where I want to achieve. I want to be heard because through my word I can voice out everything I wanted to say. As an introvert, this is a good excuse to write more.

Not later than one year, I landed into a series of freelance writing opportunities. A small web company hired me to write, although I don’t have any writing experience. I was only paid $2 per published post.

I didn’t mind as long as I could finally tell them I’ve got a job. With an editor working with me, they kept publishing my stuff on their website with no name except “Staff Writer” placed underneath the title I wrote.

It was painful, yet I continued the process without disbelief. I believe there is something about my skills and that was a priority than listening from family traditions.

While others couldn’t accept my choice, I continued writing and started not to feel burdened about what they say. My strong commitment to my goals paved the way to more and more writing opportunities. At this point, I hoped they could get the bigger picture of what I wanted to reach.

From $2, companies started to offer $250 per month to $500. Fast forward to 2019, I’ve got my reputation as a writer and had a lot of offers from different companies and private individuals on various sources.

On top of that, I’ve got the chance to write my books and finish them in one year. They are still unpublished but the fact I finished 3 books in one year is an achievement for me.

With nobody supporting me, I somehow felt I made it. While writing this post, I felt emotional knowing that I had no one behind me.

My parents seem to make no fuss of what I make nowadays (since my hard work paid off to prove my craft and beliefs in making money online) and my sister continues to feed me with food (because I tend not to go out of my room to write).

They may start to accept my choice but I can’t help it but feel lonely after being socially withdrawn for a long time. Compromising the time to spend with my family is bad but, at least, my belief has been proven to them.

Conclusion

You don’t need to pursue teaching, engineering, and farming just because it has been a family tradition. You can be whoever you want to be as long as you are willing to live the compromises and consequences of your choice.

You can be the only writer in the family or the only gifted genius. You can pursue everything even if it’s crossing the borders and dominate the world. For a hopeless unemployed achiever, it wasn’t what I had planned.

I never thought I would become the only writer in the family. I never intended it to be.

I may be the only writer in the family since our ancestors met centuries ago. My uniqueness stands out from the rest. At least something unique happened within the family because of my unexpected choice. At least, my choice made me appear mysterious. At least in that way, I provoked curiosity.

For a straight-A student, working as an executive is at sight. But that wasn’t what I had in mind. I rather sit in front of the beach, enjoying the view of the horizon while typing in the words on my laptop.

Just because I had good grades at school, that doesn’t mean my beliefs speak the majority of overachievers. Most of them took the chase. I didn’t. I stepped back and spent much of my time reflecting on life, questioning ideas and theories.

This isn’t what the corporate world wants to hear. And you know that.

Sometimes, I wonder if there would be another family member who will do the same thing as I did.

Perhaps, not in my time. If the time comes that person appears, I may either be dead or too old to recognize him. I hope not. If that happens, I’ll be forever grateful and eternally proud that he chooses the road less traveled.

Before I end this post, I like to leave a note for you to ponder. Whatever your family history is, that doesn’t mean it’s true to you. Every human being is unique, though we’re born the same way.

If you came from a family of criminals, that doesn’t mean you can become a criminal unless you choose to become one. In my case, I may come from a family of teachers, but that doesn’t mean I follow the footsteps of my ancestors and be content with what is available.

Despite the lack of resources and support, I pursued and proved my beliefs. How about you? Do you think you have the courage to stand up for what you truly believe in?

Do you prefer living the dream or fulfill your family tradition? It’s your choice. And that’s what we call self-consciousness. Wake up and take action. It’s now or never.

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