I just finished re watching "Breaking Bad" which might be one of the best written shows ever. If you
haven't seen it, go to Netflix, to to the video store, or buy it and watch it. Sure, the subject matter isn't for everyone...chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin...but the writing is so very good. In watching and then re watching, the series, I find myself asking the main character, Walter White, the following question: Was it all worth it?
He slaved, he wept, he risked all the make wads of money for his family. Spoiler alert, it doesn't completely turn out the way he hopes. Still, you have to ask the question: Was it worth it?
I know parents, in their heart of heart, ask themselves this question when they slave, weep, and risk everything for their children. Children are hard. Raising children, no matter what anyone tells you, is the most heartbreaking, joyful, painful, lovely, shattering, beautiful thing anyone could do. When done right, at the end....well, when done right there never is an end. Yes, my children would not be happy to hear that!
Writers, we face the same thing. Is it worth it?
We slave, we weep, we risk for our stories, for our "babies" for that thing we hope will one day support our family or ourselves. Maybe we alienate friends and family because we must write. Maybe we hurt feelings. Maybe those around us don't understand and we wind up either giving up our passion or we give up those around us.
Is it worth it?
In the case of Walter White, I'm going to go with a "no." No, making meth and dealing drugs is never going to be worth the risk. And in the case of raising children, hey, the jury's still out...wait, no, it's totally worth it because someday my kids, who are now nearly adults themselves, will see the worth in what their parents did and understand it themselves as they become parents.
Admittedly, my family does not get it. My son, Peter Bradley, is a published poet, and he gets it on a certain level, although he hasn't had to make a choice between going to his kids' soccer game or writing because, well, he doesn't have a kid.
My daughter writes copiously, but what her dreams are yet, I don't know. She's eighteen, she's not in her "sharing years."
My husband used to write poetry, but gave it up decades ago. We don't talk about it, why he stopped. Maybe because he got the girl...me. Maybe because he dedicated his life to the children and the house and the family. Maybe because he just didn't care about it that much.
For me, the writing career was start and stop. You can look at it from the time I was thirteen until the time I was thirty-three, when I got really serious, and the peaks and valleys of writing coincide with the peaks and valleys of personal life. The unhappier I was, the more I wrote. That's not the case now, not now that I look on writing as a career, as a job, as something I must do every day. Getting to this point required risk, however, and loss. Loss of friends, loss of jobs, loss of security.
Was it worth it?
Every writer friend I have has a job that supports them outside of writing and every writer friend I have dreams of the day they can criss cross the planet doing book signings and not have to worry about the light bill or the rent. And every writer friend I have will tell you that yes, if you want that story to be good, if you want people to read that story and love that story and want more stories from you, then yes, sacrificing a weekend, an afternoon, living late nights filled with coffee and struggling through day jobs because you had to finish the chapter the night before, is all worth it.
For me, it's a resounding yes. I have produced more since 2009 than I ever thought I could and I continue to write. I never through I had more than one story in me. Turns out, I opened that door and I have stories falling through me. It gives me joy, it gives me hope, it gives me focus knowing that a story told well, a story I'm telling, is a story worth having out there.
So yes, it is worth it. Sure, I'll never be a Walter White, and that's okay. Really...that's okay. But I'm proud of my children, through all the struggles we've had they were, and are, worth it, and I'm proud of my "babies." Each and every word, worth it.