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  • Marissa Burr

Writing in the face of adversity

By Marissa Burr, Co-Opinion Editor

We all heard it from teachers, guidance counselors, parents and other people who thought we asked for their opinion. They’d say, “That’s not a real career path. You’ll never make a living doing that,” or at least something along those lines. Musicians, actors and artists alike all heard it and saw their dreams of having everyone’s full support crushed. For most writers, it often isn’t much different.

If you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky. I was once like you, on the path to becoming a kindergarten teacher and pursuing a career everyone thought I was destined for. Would I have made a good teacher? Yes, probably. But after a while it wasn’t my passion, once I realized my favorite parts of it were writing lesson plans and designing curricula. My dream since I was young was to be an author and to publish a wide variety of books for people of all ages. When I made the switch in my major after my freshman year, it was scary for me, as well as for everyone else in my life. They were worried I wouldn’t find a sufficient job with my creative writing degree, but what everyone forgets is that I don’t need something sufficient right off the bat, just fulfilling — everything else could come later.

I am fortunate enough to have a strong support system of people who may not be as confident in my career path as I am but still believe in my writing abilities enough to not constantly be questioning me. My mom will still cite the example of a story I wrote in middle school about a family of chalk pieces (yes, you heard me correctly). I vaguely remember it. I think the white chalk and colored chalk were two different groups, and your body got smaller the older you were in this “chalk society.” (Because chalk becomes smaller as it’s used — get it? Pretty clever, I think, and maybe one day I’ll write a children’s book around the concept.) My family and friends for the most part are always willing to read my writing. Even my meemee has my aunt read her every one of my articles I publish in The Griffin. You never know how much that support truly means until someone you love doesn’t give it to you.

The few times that has happened with various loved ones, it’s been really difficult for me. I don’t think it stems from my brain telling me incessantly that I need to be liked or I am not worthy of anything — I’ve never expected everyone to like my writing. Instead, their lack of approval hits me right in the heart because this is my future now. Writing is my livelihood, whether I’m writing a novel or publishing articles for a newspaper. They don’t have to like what I’m writing: they just need to respect the fact that I’m doing it.

I don’t know, maybe in their head they’re trying to subconsciously sway me away from the decision altogether? Well, they’re two years and a few thousand dollars too late. I’ve never been more confident in a choice I’ve made as I was in my choice one to change my major, thus altering the path my life was on. At this point, I don’t care if the entire world screams at me to retire my pen and paper: I’m meant to be a writer, and I’ll be damned if I do anything else.

So my advice to all of you out there surrounded by people — or even just one person — who tell you that your dreams aren’t practical or worth it is this: screw them. If we listened to every negative comment we got, how would we ever live our lives? Oh no, Jan from the office says blue isn’t my color. Guess it’s time to throw out every piece of blue clothing I own. No. Instead, I’ll walk into work the next day covered in blue from head to toe.

Ask yourself, are you happy with the plan you have for yourself? If so, don’t let anyone tell you that you should feel otherwise. It’s not their life to control. So for all of the people out there who don’t believe I’ll make it as a writer, just remember that Jeff Goins once said, “Write something that’s worth fighting over. Because that’s how you change things. That’s how you create art.”

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