Many a young person tells me he wants to be a writer. I always encourage such people, but I also explain that there's a big difference between being a writer and writing. In most cases these individuals are dreaming of wealth and fame, not the long hours alone at the typewriter. You've got to want to write, I say to them, not want to be a writer. The reality is that writing is a lonely, private and poor-paying affair. For every writer kissed by fortune, there are thousands more whose longing is never requited. Even those who succeed often know long periods of neglect and poverty. I did.