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It’s all very well having these ambitions, of course. Exploring at length my driving passion to translate that raw edge of creation into writing, to bring that honesty and worth into everything I write so it resounds with everyone who reads it. These are the reasons I want to write, the heights I want to scale and surmount. And why do I want to do that? Well, for money, obviously.

Writing is something in me, this is evident, but I am not one of those writers who can with utter honesty tell you that money isn’t important, success isn’t important, that just having their work written down and perhaps published, and whatever it makes doesn’t matter. That’s not me. I want to be successful, by which I mean I want my writing to earn me a living so I can provide for my family.

Some writers, I’m sure, started because they wanted to break records or make themselves a name. Some invented or pioneered styles and elements of thought, or discovered whole new territories of writing. I don’t hold such lofty ambitions, mine are far more personal and ground in life. I want to earn enough so I need not do anything else but write, and so my family can enjoy the freedom and opportunity to do what makes them happy too.

Providing for kids is something people do every day. You don’t have to be a millionaire, or even rich to do it. Security is what I aspire to, though it sounds paltry when it comes out like that. Security for the family I don’t yet have but hope to soon. Security for their lives, so they can love and learn and believe and aspire, and not be struck down by the monotonous drone of the ‘live to work’ culture that festers in this country.

I want my sons and daughters to be ambitious, keen and enthusiastic. I want to show them that following a dream isn’t about throwing caution to the wind or being reckless and ignoring what’s really going on around you. I want to be able to give them the inspiration to see that whatever they want to do is possible, whether it’s teaching, travelling, accountancy, acting, selling or singing or running or writing. I want my wife to feel the same.

I want them to be able to listen to themselves and do what makes them truly happy. And of course I want to be able to do all this without dragging myself into a job I don’t want and then spend my free time tapping away at writing when I’ll be missing out on being with them. Writing is the only job I’ve ever wanted to do, and that’s why I want to write.

It takes a certain kind of selfishness to want to write soley without any thought of earning from it or ambition for success. Or perhaps it takes a more self-assured distance from the ‘need’ to write, since I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for me to keep writing if a) I didn’t think what I was doing was good enough to be successful and b) I didn’t have any hopes about what form that success might take. It would be redundant, less than a hobby.

And yet I know lots of creative people who pursue their passions – music, writing, acting – with apparently not an ounce of hope that the passion could become the career. Maybe I’m being hoodwinked, maybe it’s a lack of belief in an alternative to the conventional. I would say that not dreaming is hard, except I know from my own experience that the hardest thing is to start dreaming and doing something about that dream. Though it gets easier.

I know I’m good enough. I know that the writer I have the capacity to be is better by some distance than some of the published authors out there who earn enough to get by. I know that I can work hard enough to become a writer who earns enough that he need never do anything but earn from his writing, and be able to provide lives of opportunity and love for his family. For my family.

I don’t want to change the world. I don’t want to be Keats, or King, or Kerouac. Admittedly I would very much like to be Byron. What I want is simply to be a full time writer earning a living and providing for my family, not a Rowling-esque super rich celebrity. Funnily enough, it was Brewster’s Millions that left me with the first threads of this post…

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About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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