- It was fun - I received free books to review, and on-sold them or donated them to the local library.
- It was important - for the first time in my life, I believed I had some real talent in something other than sports, or "being the nice, quiet guy"
- It was naive, but innocent nonetheless
Breaking into print is really not that hard; anyone with a half-decent vocabulary, who can string comprehensible sentences together to form a cohesive story together, can do it. After all, "creative writing" and "journalism" are offered as school-level courses. This isn't astrophysics.
Finding a voice is pretty easy too, once you understand your market, and your audience. It's easy to whore yourself out to anyone who would be willing to pay you bottom-dollar rates in an intensely competitive industry, with a byline for your efforts. You write. They pay. You get the credit. For some writers this is like free crack on christmas day; they buy into it, and give it their all. Some become alcoholic, egotistical, print journalists. And don't we love them for it.
Developing and honing a unique voice within a distinct market is an altogether different story. In fiction or non-fiction. It's not easy. I think people forget that, just like any other career, professional writing has its substantial fair share of dropouts - people very capable on paper, but not the paper that mattered - their "customers" (readers), in other words. It takes practice - years of practice - which most never master.
In 2013, I'm going to try and write a novel. I don't care if it doesn't get published. I won't blame myself. I won't blame my friends or family who will support me through this arduous, lengthy process. No. If nothing comes of it, I'll blame you. Wish me luck. Now leave.