On my reviews site today, I covered Jean Twenge’s Generation Me, which talks about how the Millennials (or “Gen Me” or “Gen Y” or whatever you prefer to call them) have been raised to believe they can have and do anything. This leads to great expectations . . . and disappointments.
I’ve ranted before about how much I hate being told “you’ll get there someday.” It feels like a false promise. So when I see stuff like this:
If you were not meant to be successful then why is that burning desire inside you to be successful? It is there because YOU WILL BE.
— Literary Rejections (@LitRejections) May 26, 2015
I get irritated.
I know they mean well, and they’re trying to motivate and encourage writers. But not everyone is going to make it as a writer. There are more “writers” now than ever before and let’s be frank: not all of them can write.
They can learn, if they try. If they put forth the effort. But that’s a whole other problem with this particular generation—they’ve been raised to believe they’re already perfect and have no need to improve in any way.
But this post isn’t meant to get into all that. Go read about the book if you want to know more on that subject. I’m only saying that a burning desire is not enough. Talent isn’t even enough. I won’t go so far as to say “it’s who you know” or any of that, but publishing (and filmmaking) isn’t a meritocracy. It’s alchemy. It takes just the right combination of ingredients to succeed, and not everyone is going to get an O.W.L. in Potions.
So, yeah, I do kind of take offense when people say, indiscriminately, “You’ll be successful.” Because there’s no way to know that. And sure, it’s better than saying, “Just quit now and go home,” but . . . I’m all for truth. So maybe say, “Look, who knows? It may never happen, but if writing is what makes you happy, do it. Because the one thing you DO know is, if you stop, it really will never happen.”