I used to be a reporter for a newspaper, and so technically, I used to be a professional writer earning my living with my words. However, now that I'm no longer writing articles and I'm working instead on picture books and novels, I consider myself among the ranks of publishing newbies.
What I hear a lot of from some of my fellow unpublished comrades is that they feel that publishing is 'unfair' or that agents are 'mean' or that you have to know someone or be famous, and above all how hard the publishing system is and how it's just not fair.
Many of the people who cry loudest about this are people who do not have an accurate assessment of their own work. While definitely promising and talented, their writing just isn't there yet. They aren't ready but they think they are, so instead of looking at their own work, and trying to figure out how to make it stronger, they look for someone else to blame. Or they blame the publishers for only publishing crap (When honestly, the publishers are hanging on by the skin of their teeth in this economy, and so, who can blame them for pushing commercial and popular books?). Or they look for ways to game the system. You get the picture.
Today Writer Beware had an excellent post on how publishing is not a crap shoot. I urge all my fellow unpublished and aspiring writer peers to read it. It illustrates that while the system isn't perfect, we writers shouldn't think it's "us" versus "them".
I also don't understand why some people are desperate to be published, so much so, that it blinds them. When I was a teenager, locked in the backroom with my ancient floppy disks and first gen computer, I pecked away on fantasy stories late into the night. Never in a million years did I dream that the stories I was working on would be published. Oh, I knew that someday when I was all growns up I'd be a writer, but those stories I wrote for ME. For the sheer joy of the telling and the practice and the creation.
I'm trying to get back to that place in my own writing journey, where the joy of the writing comes first, and publication, if it comes, is pure icing on the cake.