By Richard Jay Parker
It's a question that writers frequently ask themselves whether they be starting out, struggling to perpetuatre their ambition or writing professionally. Being a writer is one of the few professions that people find acceptable in terms of it earning little money. Put a silent 'struggling' before the title, nobody bats an eyelid.
Writers are frequently portrayed in the media as malcontented, downtrodden pariahs with an enormous capacity for alcohol (OK - that last one certainly attracts some people to the lifestyle). It's not a romantic image though. It's not true of many writers either.
But some truths are inescapable. There's never a guarantee of success in this business. Not every writer wants to earn the big bucks and is quite content with the therapy and pleasure it offers. However, anyone wishing to do it as a day job has to make it pay and the nature of the work (and the donkey/carrot technique that so many use to extract the work from us for nothing) means more often than not it doesn't.
Depending on which area of writing you're in personal projects can be taken out of your hands, changed, rewritten beyond recognition or stolen outright (although instances of this are not quite as common as some writers fear). There's also the interminable waiting period that comes before all that which every writer agrees is one of the most frustrating parts of the process.
So what is it that attracts so many people? I think it's because writing is still one of the purest ambitions to have. That creating something personal and championing it in the face of all the above is an innate human desire to share our individuality - whether it be with friends or the entire world. There's also that old saying about nothing that's worth having ever being easy so add our gluttony for punishment to the crucible as well.
It's not easy being a writer but I made a determined decision to be one quite some time ago. I inevitably get fed up with its myriad pitfalls but I can still find quite enough reasons - aside from the generous and supportive company of other writers - to want to continue.
Glass of wine anyone?