If you're reading this, you were probably drawn in by the title. I know I would be. I'm sure you're expecting some bitter, hateful rant against some kind of writer or another. After all, I did just call them hopeless. But, in this post, you will find no bitterness or spite. That's because I don't use 'hopeless' in that way. The Hopeless Writers are the kind I support more than any other, and the kind I love the most. And that's because I am one of them, and everyone else should be too.
Just today, I read a blog post from NYT bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout (you can read that post here, it is quite good) and, while I agree with what she said and understand the message she is putting across to the writers of the world, I had trouble connecting with the overall message. Why? Two reasons. One, I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo far away from landing on any sort of bestseller list of any kind, that I have trouble even imagining myself hitting one at any point in the 5 to 7 decades I hopefully still have left on earth. And two, and this is the REALLY important one, I genuinely, sincerely, absolutely, don't give a fuck. That's what makes me, and all the others like me, hopeless. It's not that we're without any hope of rising to the point of bestseller, it's that hope doesn't mean anything to us. It's completely unimportant and irrelevant to the task at hand: writing.
Over the past several years, I have developed a more nihilistic view towards humanity. For those unaware, nihilism is the belief that humanity, and everything humans have ever created, is pretty much meaningless. Going into detail about my particular brand of nihilism and what it entails would be a post within itself, so we'll leave it at that. But, how can someone who believes anything ever created by humans is meaningless still find the motivation to create? Easy. You do it because you enjoy it, more than anything else. It is because of this belief that the quest for the NYT or USA Today bestseller lists never causes me any concern, nor have my low sales figures. These things do not impact or impede my desire to create, because I simply enjoy creating and accept that nothing else really matters.
The best way I can think to describe what it's like to be a Hopeless Writer is to use the words of Hip Hop artist Murs: "I would still be rapping if I never made a penny". It should be noted that Murs spoke these words not as some yet-to-be-discovered talent or as a young, hopeful boy. He said this 19 albums, and 20 years, into his career. I think about this sentence a lot, at least a few time per week. Switch out rapping for writing, and you've got my general belief system. I can say, with all the confidence in the world, that I would still be writing if I never made a dime off of it for my entire life. I do it for the enjoyment, because it is the thing I love doing, more than anything else. And when it comes right down to it, nothing else matters.
Bestseller lists don't matter, sales figures don't matter, not even reviews matter when it comes right down to it. Because if a dinosaur-style meteor hit the earth right now, it wouldn't matter if you were a nameless mid-lister lost among the masses of Amazon or if you were James Patterson. You, and every trace of your individual impact or existence would be gone. It's a freeing thought if you think about it. It puts everyone on a level playing field. And when nobody is any higher than anyone else, regardless of bestseller lists and sales figures, then the competition ceases to exist. The competition that created the goals that people hope for and the pitfalls that people fear becomes meaningless.
So, shout out to all the Hopeless Writers. To the people who couldn't care less about any of that stuff. To the people who understand it isn't about higher sales, or showing up on lists, or being known. To the people who ditch the idea of hope for the much simpler idea of happiness. To the people that embrace the fact that they love what they do and that nothing else really matters. We're all on the same level. Everything we create, no matter how big or life changing it may become, will eventually be annihilated from all universal existence. So as long as you're doing the thing that brings you joy, and writing the things you want to write, everything else should be irrelevant.
A happy, Hopeless Writer