Writing is a thankless job
Written by
Erin Emerson
April 2011
Written by
Erin Emerson
April 2011

Writing is a thankless job.  Sure, if you are one of the select few who achieve a certain measure of success, there will be people who thank you for writing.  But for the majority, the rest of us, there is no thank you. 

When I worked in a corporate job, I received at least ten emails everyday thanking me for doing my job, or complimenting me on how well I did it.  As much as I appreciated the recognition, I didn’t exactly need it.  I was being paid to do that job.

In my life now, writing full time, I churn out page after page.  I work diligently, days, nights, and weekends.  Sometimes I isolate myself for days at a time just to focus myself fully on writing, editing, and honing my craft.  I expect me, and only me to catch my mistakes.  I read my work with a fine tooth comb, which is easier than the greater task, reading my work with an open heart and waiting to feel something I can’t define, but the instinct of whether or not my work has merit. 

Every day I go to work and receive at least one rejection letter.  Now there is usually an apology in those.  “We apologize for the impersonal nature of this email, but…”  Yes, I’m sorry too.  I know you are a very busy agent, but automated rejection to the query letter I slaved over doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies either.        

Furthermore, there is an expectation that I will be grateful for this opportunity to work without pay.  And I really am.  However, thanking my husband for choosing to take this journey with me, as we both give up my portion of our income to pursue my dream wears on me too.    

So for the rest of you out there today, my coworkers in a thankless job; I thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for continuing to write. 

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  • Erin Emerson

    Being redundant, thank you all, again.  While for the most part, this was a poorly articulated (not a good thing for a writer, but you are my *friends*) expression of gratitude, the sentiment was very clear in my mind. Here goes the understatement of the year; there are worse problems to have than being an unappreciated writer.  But think of all the phenomenal books we never would have had if the writers had given up upon receiving their nth rejection letter, or after receiving a criticism that cut them to the bone.  I think of the sentences that changed the way I thought about something, and the writers who surely struggled to get them out there.  It reminds me of Edna St. Vincent Millay's comment that "A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down."  I commend that bravery, that willingness to explore your own potential, aware that writing is a thankless job that is at best enormously under-valued; the vulnerability to believe in yourself, in your ability and steadfast commitment to develop that potential.  I am so grateful to all of you, for what you're doing.  It is truly a compliment to consider you my support system, my friends.  Writing is an art, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize the artists.  Who wants to live in a world without poetry?             

    "Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around."
    Stephen King
  • Adriana Ryan

    And thank you so much for writing this post. You're right, writing is thankless. But, at the end of the day, I think it's up to us to thank ourselves. It's taken me a long, long time to accept that I'm a writer, and a good one at that. So I say a little congratulations to myself for being brave enough to take a step that most people never do. As Seneca said, "He who is brave is free."

    With that, let me say, congratulations to you!!!! :)


  • Tina Deschamps

    I can very much relate to the husband taking the financial burden aspect of your post.Though it's one of the few times that it has paid to be a woman (since most men would never ask for such an opportunity), I still hate the feeling of dependence that it spawns, and, at least in my case, the subtle power shift.

    I wish you all the best and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • Iris Jones-Simantel

    And thank you too, Erin, for writing (for free), to share your thoughts with us all.  You are much appreciated.

  • Jayme Whitfield

    Thank YOU, Erin!