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I could cite you a VERY long list of authors who did poorly in school. If I did my job as an editor, you'll never know who they are unless I call them out by name. And I won't. Probably because I can't remember them all.
(I'm joking. Editor/author confidentiality protects them, even if it exists only in my imagination.)
Our emailer then mentions that her friends laugh at her when she tells them she intends to write. Why does she care? I've lost count of how many projects I've undertaken despite criticism. Not just writing, either. Life. But let me narrow my focus just so I can end this rant.
You have a reason for writing. You know what it is, even if you can't put it into words. I can't put it into words. ("It" can mean your reason OR mine in that sentence.) But it's there. Why do you give a rat's backside how many people tell you not to even try? People who I doubt have even read your writing, I might add.
Your classmates won't understand why you write. Nor your friends. Nor your family. You're lucky if you find ten non-writers in your lifetime who have a clue. And you don't care. You just write.
If you're ever lucky enough to "arrive," then all doubters will claim to understand why you write. And they'll all be wrong.
Also, by time someone out there is embracing your work, you'll already be three books beyond it and sick of hearing about your old trash. No, it won't be trash, but you'll think of it that way. There's a big time lapse between creation and that Oprah interview.
What I never write to those emailers is this. I shouldn't have to tell you why you write. You don't need my vindication or anyone else's. If those who haven't even read your work can discourage you, maybe you should give up. Or do an Emily Dickinson and leave it all for people to find after you die.
But I can tell you this. If you'll let something as silly as your grades in school stop you from even beginning to write in first place, nothing you have to write is worth finding after you die. And if you're angry at me for saying it, good. Prove me wrong. Write a book.
Michael LaRocca's website at http://www.chinarice.org was chosen by WRITER'S DIGEST as one of The 101 Best Websites For Writers in 2001 and 2002. His response was to throw it out and start over again because he's insane. He teaches English at a university in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, and publishes the free weekly newsletter WHO MOVED MY RICE?