This is one of those conversations I have with people who don’t share any interest in writing, media, or reading.

One-of-those-people: “What do you want to become?”

Me: “I want to become a writer.”

One-of-those-people: “Oh,” and a pause, usually a long one. “Why?”

Me: “I love writing, it’s my passion.”

One-of-those-people: “I picture you sitting down alone with lots of books. Not that there’s anything wrong with it… It’s just… lonely. I prefer to deal with people.”

Sometimes, I have trouble telling people that writing is not just a hobby. Writing is not a third-class job for people who can’t do everything else either. It’s also not a back-up plan, nor a cash cow (see how good the market is?).

Being a writer is merely a choice.

It saddens me often to witness one-of-those-people judging me of having a less-than-glamorous dream. Of course, they don’t have the stomach to tell it to my face, but you could see it from their eyes.

I wonder if one-of-those-people think I’ll end up not making money (well, which may actually be true). I wonder if they think I’ll end up living my days like a lonely woman in her mid-thirties in her robe, with her long expired instant coffee, two panda eyes, and a fear of sunlight. I wonder if they think I’m not cool for not dreaming to become a CEO, seal ten-million-dollar deal with the Japanese, or be the next Miss Universe.

Often they ask me what I’m doing today and if I say I’m going for coffee alone with my iPad, books, and journal, they will think that I’m living such a lonely life.

Well, being a writer is not like that.

It takes knowledge, expertise, and inspiration to become a writer. It takes a mind who can find patterns in life and connect them. It takes practice, and perhaps, lots of coffee. It takes a heart that is willing to learn, and not broken when it falls.

Because writing is an art – it’s our creation. To some extent, it’s us on paper. Each time we release our work, we become fragile of exposing ourselves.

It takes determination. It takes courage that you don’t even know exist. It takes embracing challenges. It takes dealing with people, often with hundreds or even thousands of them.

Like all artists, being a writer is much like giving birth. You conceive the idea, and work on it. You feed it. You begin to create it. And one day, you feel that it’s time for the work to be shown. You are excited, yet scared. You wonder if whether the work will turn out the way you expect it, or go the opposite way. You take the plunge and release it anyway. And then there will be screams and blood. But there will also be laugh and smile. You may be disappointed; you may be proud. But you’ll turn up to write again, tomorrow, because you know it’s just the start.

Because real writers know the work that they are doing – they know that there are stories to be told, and they honour that calling.

So if one day you meet another writer, do me a favour.

Even if you have never been in our shoes, and don’t understand a single thing about the perks of being one, respect their dreams. It’s hard enough for them to have one – a dream that only a few succeed in making it into big bucks – it’s even harder to be judged as living a lonely life.