Since the writing post generated so many comments, I’ll add a number of items that I should have included in the first place.
How do you know if you have a chance at the writing biz? Mark Twain put it best. Give it everything you have for a year. If in that time you haven’t sold anything, give up.
Develop a very high tolerance for rejection. Everyone gets rejected. I get rejected.
Everyone whose comments I read, who said they wanted to write for money, used three times as many words as necessary.
Learn to spell. Learn grammar. Editors are lazy, and many of them are barely literate, or illiterate, so they will either have less work to do or be awestruck, and both of these things are in your favor.
Writing is a solitary business, and requires great self-discipline, so if you don’t like that, don’t write.
Don’t miss a deadline. Ever. You’re cooked if you do.
Most important: The single greatest difference between amateur writing and professional writing is, the former is all about the writer. I, I, I, me, me, me. If you’d like an illustration, read any of the articles in any of the hunting magazines. “I did this; I did that; I went there; I shot that.” Professionals know that they are a set of eyes and a pair of ears, and that their job is to see and do in place of the reader and describe it. Read Jack O’Connor and see how little he intrudes into his own narrative. If you can’t see this, don’t write.
When you’re on a hunt, keep your goddamn mouth shut. You might hear something interesting and be able to use it. I once got in a lot of trouble for going on a safari where I was supposed to be entertaining and not saying a word. One person got so upset that he offered to fight me on the grounds that I didn’t like him.
I explained, that indeed I didn’t like him, but I hardly ever spoke even when he wasn’t around. The fight never took place.
Via scriba dura est.