When I first started writing a while ago, I did it in isolation. I didn't have any frame of reference for how the writing process worked when it came to fiction. Because I was never classically trained in writing other than basic mechanics, I wasn't familiar with things like editing or even what the purpose of an editor was.
I may be showing my ignorance in spades here but I honestly thought the prose poured from the author's pen or keyboard pretty much as-is. The author knows what he/she wants to say, scribbles it out and the publisher says, "Yes. This is good. We shall make it into a book so it can make mountains of money for you (and for us as well.) We hope this $100,000 advance is enough for you, Sir Author. Once Hollywood options it to make a movie, we shall give you $1,000,000 as well for making something this awesome."
A small part of me still hopes that is true. However, now that I have been meandering in the world of writers and authors for the past year, I've come to find that while such a success story exists, it is roughly as probable as winning the Powerball. I've found that most writers either struggle to make a living from their work or have a full-time occupation in addition to their authorial endeavors. In light of that knowledge, it's a good thing I didn't quit my full-time job in a mad rush to begin my writing career. (Yes, that's a thought I had. It may have been for only a split second but it did exist.)
So after knocking that pipe-dream out of my head, I went about researching exactly what it takes to be a writer, or more accurately, a successful writer. Before you head to the comments, let me say that yes, the successful part is a goal of mine. I have little desire to write for months, or years on end only to have a pat on the back and a "Hey! Cool! You wrote a book!" for my troubles. Nope. If you can be completely satisfied with simply finishing a book crafted from your own blood, sweat, time, and tears then you're a better person than I. I would no more consider doing that than I would if I were an automotive engineer designing a car from the ground up.
As such a designer, I would be expected to spend every minute of my working day and more likely than not, time of my own at home thinking about, planning, designing and ultimately building the perfect car. I'd work on it for months, years even. Everything that is in this car I wanted it to be there. It works exactly as designed, and it's all from my hard work and ingenuity (along with a few helping hands along the way.) It's all my ideas about automotive excellence rolled into a singular expression of awesome.
Is the design a success? By all practical measures it is. Does it function as designed? Yes, most assuredly it does. Is it pleasing to look at? I'd venture to say that most people would think so if they saw it, but that is up to each individual's taste and personal preference. As a designer I think it's a winner.
If after all of that work, I humbly swagger into my bosses' office anticipating my compensation (both monetary and recognition-wise) and he says, "Good job, Wimmer! You should be proud! You made a car!" and that's all I get, I'm not liable to be a happy camper. The boss doesn't even offer to compensate me for my time or talents, but instead tells me that because I spent the last two years on it, I can keep it and they'll even put a nice coat of wax on it. How does that affect my work that has already been done and my work going forward?
Can I still be proud of my work? Sure and no doubt I would be. Can I still say I've done something that not many others have done? Yep, because how many can say that? Is it still an awesome car? That's silly, of course it is. (Hello! I designed it, it's gonna be a-maz-ing.)
In my eyes that's not right. I'm expending all I am for writing. Every moment I'm not working at my full time job, I'm thinking, plotting, planning for the next scene, chapter, or book. It's a dichotomy I deal with each and every day and it runs me ragged.
Some would call me self-serving or greedy. As a matter of fact one of my closest friends jokes with me daily that my official title should be "Your Greedy Prickness" for setting a goal for having people actually buy my book and tell their friends about it. But is wanting the thing I do and love (writing books, stories, and blog posts) to be the same thing that provides a steady and decent income for myself a bad thing to strive for? Is wanting to create something that others gain enjoyment or insight from a wrong-headed way to think? I don't feel that it is.
It is often said that if you love what you do for a living, then you'll never work a day in your life. That is what I want. That is why I strive for excellence. That is why I write and edit, and then re-write and edit some more. That is a noble cause to me.
My thought process here may be flawed. You may disagree vehemently and you're welcome to do so. However, I have a feeling that I'm not the only one. I'm not the only one who wants to succeed in their authorship in both a personal and monetary way, and there is nothing wrong with that.