A vocation of unhappiness?

The prolific Belgian author, Georges Simenon, famously said, ‘Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.’

Georges Simenon, 1963
Georges Simenon, 1963

Writing is certainly a vocation. Many professional authors have been doing it for years on top of the nine to five before they start to make any money from it, and most say they’d continue to write even if their income from it completely dried up.

Like any other vocation, this hunger to create comes at a cost; it takes time and energy away from social life and other interests, and puts personal challenges upon us which we might otherwise prefer to avoid, such as developing the ability to deal with criticism and rejection.

But because it’s a vocation, that inner drive enables us to overcome our setbacks and difficulties and keeps us moving forward towards a growing sense of doing what we were born to do.

I used to think that dreaming was a vocation of unhappiness too. It felt like a compulsion which had me in its grip. Over the years, it has taken me to all sorts of places where I’ve felt confused and frightened, and out of my depth. It has given me insights and information I did not want to know.

Ignorance is bliss, and dreams are a road to understanding. Writing is hard, and for most of us it will not lead to a life of material abundance. But if you have a vocation you have to find and follow your inner compass, because that is the only way to achieve the supreme happiness of coming home to the self.

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10 thoughts on “A vocation of unhappiness?”

  1. I can completely relate to this post, Jenny. It is a rollercoaster profession to be in, and a rollercoaster vocation to have, but it’s one we have to ride, because, as you say, if we don’t we will lose touch with who we truly are.

  2. Thank you for commenting Abi – and for tweeting 🙂 It’s rocky sometimes, but it really is our way to happiness 🙂

  3. I’m happiest when writing, even if what I’m writing is sad or terrifying. I’ve always loved to write; it’s simply a part of my psyche. I know the odds are against me becoming a wildly successful scribe who can purchase a beach front abode or a quaint cottage in the forest and write without further concerns. But, I’m doing it anyway. It’s one of the few things in life that makes me feel truly ecstatic.

  4. Hi Amy – I’m so glad. I love that internet synchronicity, when something you need to hear drops right into your inbox on the day you need to hear it. It happens all the time to me and it’s good to hear my posts sometimes do it for other people 🙂

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