Writing Tips

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

As many of you know, I love listening. Hearing the stories of strangers is often the most inspiring moments of my own life. It’s also how I fell in love with listening, and this is why I enjoy hearing your opinions and suggestions so much. Recently, Bob Clary – the Marketing Manager for Webucator – asked me to write a blog post that answered a few questions about novel writing, but his focus went a little further than that. The main idea fixated on writing despite lack of financial gain – a very common occurrence among authors – and I’m not an exception. Since graduating from the University of Kansas, I’ve been searching for work, but I haven’t had much luck, and recently, I lost my car. Now, finding work has been even more grueling, and there are days where I’m often at a loss for hope. It is in those moments that I write more, and it is then how much I realize writing has helped me.

When I first started writing, it was out of pure love for the craft. How could it not be? I was a child. I had very few things to worry about – other than moving around. Before I was 14, I had moved six times. The road was very much my home, but the road can be lonely. It was difficult to make friends, and when I did, moving again didn’t permit me to keep friends for long. Writing allowed me to entertain myself, but it went much further than that. Writing also allowed me to explore friendship in fantasies I created, and since I created them, they didn’t have to go away, and for that reason, I was perfectly content living in a fantasy world for a very long time. It wasn’t until my mother passed away when I was eleven years old that I realized my writing was my first love but also my first coping mechanism. Writing was my way of living, and I wanted to spend my life writing. By choosing this path, I hoped to help and inspire others – especially young people. Through writing, I wanted to show it was possible to follow the dream despite difficulties. In fact, I wanted to prove it.

My peaceful moments.
My peaceful moments.

Those are still my goals today, but – of course – life is very different now that I’m 23. I struggle to pay the bills. I cannot afford to buy a new car. And I’ve spent a good amount of time walking around in twenty-degree weather looking for another job to take on top of my author gig as well as working for my publisher. I used to be ashamed of my situation, but then, I began journaling again, and I found comfort in exploring my frustrations in words that no one but me had to see. Now, it is not as hard to be open with others about my life. Writing allows me to be honest. It brings me the strength to continue forward, and it both comforts the bad days and energizes the good ones. Writing becomes my motivation, and that motivation has brought me to marvelous places with magnificent people.

I’ve been able to meet dozens of authors, hundreds of readers, and even more people I would’ve never been able to connect with before pursuing publication. I have spoken with you, laughed with you, and created with you. Sharing my own creations has stretched my happiness beyond what I could’ve done by myself because it was in that sharing where I found confidence – a content place in my heart where I continue to explore the possibilities of writing. To all aspiring writers, this is where I feel most loved – in creating words and sharing words – and as long as you keep the love for writing close to your heart, your fingertips will never stop yearning to write more.

I don’t live a lavish lifestyle or even anything close, but I live my life to the best of my ability, and I continue to love writing no matter the hardships I face because my readers, fellow writers, and love for words motivates me. No matter how much I struggle, there is always peace in pursing a passion.


P.S. Merry Christmas to those that celebrate!

P.S.S. Check out this awesome fan art Books Everywhere created for our interview. If you’ve read Take Me Tomorrow, you might recognize this image as a depiction of “cat-eyes” – an effect caused by consuming the clairvoyant drug, tomo.

Thank you, Book Everywhere!
Thank you, Book Everywhere!

49 thoughts on “The Struggling (Sometimes Starving) Writer

  1. I can totally relate to this. For me, my blog has been a outlet where I pour my emotions. Writing was a passion for me at start but I wanted that I should be able to earn a living out of this.

    “If you are good at something, never do it for free”, I think this helped me a lot. Though I still do my job but I earn “decent” from my writing. 🙂

    I think if you are at it and you are moving in the right direction, success in bound to come. Merry Christmas. 🙂 😀

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece, and I think it’s great for writers to share their experiences in this difficult market. Too often, we act that it is perfect, and we earn enough, but I am grateful for what I do earn. I’m even more grateful for all the people – such as yourself – that I am able to talk with because of this lil’ blog of mine.
      Merry Christmas! Thank you for commenting.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! I am responding to both comments on this thread. :] I am honored that you shared your experience now, too. It’s a very different thing to do, but it’s always nice to meet and speak with inspiring people to relate to.

  2. Reblogged this on ♚toddmedicii♚ and commented:
    I was thinking of a comment to write but I could not think of one to do any justice to what has been said by this author. The best I can do, is share it with even more people. I have made it a point to never reblog, but this is clearly an exception. Knowing people are doing what they love and persevering to continue doing it give’s me an incalculable amount of motivation and respect for this author. By far one of my favorite blog post’s since I’ve started WordPress.

    1. Todd Medicii,

      My gratitude goes out to you for sharing this piece despite not normally reblogging. Thank you for also sharing your thoughts and feelings about the post. Explaining my situation hasn’t been easy, but I found comfort in finding the strength to do so, and I’m continued to be filled with more hope when readers share this post while also explaining the significance to them. In other words, it means a lot to me. I am cherishing the kindness. Thank you!
      P.S. I do follow your blog! Loved your “About” page. We have coffee and cats in common…and pretty much everything else you listed.

      1. I desperately want a cat but unfortunately my parents are allergic. Still, that doesn’t stop this cat-raydar I seem to have where some neighborhood outdoor cats tend to appear on my doorstep. A few, I see and play with often and walk with around the block. It’s sad and comforting.

      2. Originally, I despised cats. Okay… “despise” is a strong word. I was more terrified than anything else. (One attacked me when I was a kid. Had to wear an eye-patch and everything.) But I ended up with one when I was 19, and we’ve been attached ever since. Now, there are three. Bonafide cat lady. They sure know how to warm a heart. It’s like they can sense if you truly want one. I hope you get to have one of your own in the near future!

  3. I think many of us write because it is what we love to do. Unfortunately, love doesn’t pay the bills…

    You have a bright future ahead of you, Shannon. I am sure of it ❤

  4. A very wise friend of mine, back to my days in England, once said that it all comes down to relationships. And, of course, the first and most fundamental of those relationships is the one we have with ourself. All a long-winded way of saying that your self-awareness and self-insight, so beautifully expressed in your post, guarantees a bright, happy future! A very Happy New Year to you! From this Brit, now living in Oregon, who, if I may say, is old enough to be your grandfather! 😉

  5. Gosh, do I know the feeling! Our hearts draw us in a certain direction, but life has other demands. I don’t know what kind of work you’re looking for, but it couldn’t hurt to look for work that relates to your writing. Use your writing as one of the “extra activity” things they ask for on job applications. And bring a book or two to interviews, in case they want to see solid proof of your accomplishments.

    Above all, I hope you can keep writing all your life. Years ago, several of my friends started out writing at the same time as me. The ones who are happiest now are the ones who didn’t quit.

    1. I’m basically looking for anything, but – without a car – I don’t have many options in walkable distance. Working online with my services has kept me afloat for now, and I get to work with writers. :] I’ll be sure to keep your advice in mind though! The day I get an interview and can drive to it will be a great one. And I’ll definitely keep writing. :]

  6. As a person who also moved multiple times as a child (I was an Army brat), as a KU grad, and as a writer (who began much as you did, and for many of the same reasons), I found that your post spoke to me very deeply. My hope for you is that you see during the most difficult struggles that you are moving forward, and helping others to do the same. Thanks for your wonderful words. Peace.

  7. I think a part of me wants to be a writer (still dreaming about it) but I’m totally bad at grammar and writing out structure for a book. Maybe I should take a writing class. It’s like the thought of writing, tugs at my heart and soul. I’m always dreaming of writing a wonderful, fantasy, with characters that everyone can fall in love. I think the question I need to ask myself is am I willing to take the next step but where do I start?

    1. Start with the first word, and then the second, and then the third. :] I believe you can do it, and it’s okay to start writing a book and dislike it and start a new one. I never finished the first book I ever attempted to write, but I eventually found my way. Being comfortable with failure is the best way to succeed, I think – meaning, we all have to fall a couple of times before we learn how to stand, and walk, and run. Just start with that first word. :]

  8. When I first thought about being a writer the marketplace was very different. I believe if I would’ve continued to improve my craft steadily I would’ve been able to achieve a level of success comparable to Terry Brooks, another English teacher turned writer and not much older than I am. But I loved teaching and the students (though not the kind of love that gets you fired and jailed as a teacher). I chose to wait until I retired to pursue my dreams of being an author. Now, I am definitely a writer, complete with blog, writer’s neuroses, and overworked imagination. But I am not really a writer. I made twelve dollars for writing before 2013, and sixteen dollars since. I have two books published, and more on the way with a new publisher. But I am not good at marketing and self-promotion. I am hoping the new publisher is more helpful than the last. I know what you mean about the struggles of the authors’ life. But I would still be doing this even if I had to pay to do it. (But PLEASE don’t tell my publisher that!)

  9. I must say, that we writers go through similar situations even if we are miles apart and since we share the same passion, we connect in ways we never imagined before; we have that hidden ability and like anything else in life, if we love it and have true passion about something then that part of us will always remain intact, we will continue with that path no matter what the situation might be. And btw; whoa, might I say that, I feel truly grateful and kind of on a cloud that you shared my totally fan-art/obsessed-with-Noah-pic, and with everything else these past few months since I got that message telling me if I took review requests, I hadn’t thought about it until Take Me Tomorrow and Minutes Before Sunset came along and it actually got me going with writing my ramblings or reviews about different books. Because even when I love writing new stories, this other aspect of my life transformed into something else when Shannon here, came knocking to my online door, thank you once more and I hope we keep in touch. -Sela Ordaz.

  10. I see much of myself in this post, and I can so relate. It’s a healthy dose of reality for me, an indie who is considering querying an agent someday – I have this vision that signing with a publisher will radically transform my career and not make me rich, per se, but stable enough to not freak out when gas prices go up another ten cents a gallon. But everyone has to start somewhere, and for only being 23, it sounds like you have a lot to be proud of.

  11. Great blog that I found via a reblogging! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, it really does help others. Will be following you now in the future. Wishing you all the very best in 2015. 🙂

  12. Thank you for sharing this. I can absolutely relate to the difficulties in making friends when you never stay in the same place for long. I had already attended 10 different schools before I made it to High School. Granted for me I gravitated more to reading the books than writing them, but I found so much of what you wrote about here familiar. Keep plugging away at what you love!

  13. Thank you Shannon for opening up to us so vividly! Seeing your emotional ties to your writing and your lifelong bond with our craft was beautiful and humbling. I see a limitless scope in your writing and in your spirit. I hope you’ll continue to share that breadth of passion with us through whatever it is that you decide to pen!

  14. Its not easy for us writers some of the time, but we have something so incredibly enviable, and that’s a hidden escape route down the keyboard….ssshh don’t tell anyone the code, it’s for our eyes only.
    You are not alone Shannon, we are all out here swimming with you. Keep talking to us, sing if you must, but never go quiet…We are all listening.

  15. I can relate to you and your relationship to writing. I look at what you’ve created and I think that for you to be this productive at 23 is amazing. A lot can change in 10 or even 5 years, and if you stay consistent I’m sure you will find a way to keep doing what you love and be rightfully compensated for it. No amount of money can replace the satisfaction you get from doing what you love. You are talented and have something to offer the world. Thank you for sharing your story.

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