On Writing

Some days, it’s easier to be anything but a writer.

It’s easier to applaud others’ accomplishments than to put our own stuff out there. It’s safer to read someone else’s work than to painstakingly compose our own, then release it and let it be rejected, criticized, or worst of all, totally ignored. It’s easier just to review someone else’s story than risk someone reviewing our own, and seeing what we didn’t see, and calling us out. It’s more comforting to just hide under a book that’s already successful, to jump on the bandwagon and join thousands of readers, so at least we’ll have something in common to discuss. Because for many writers, the path is lonely and isolated. Few are reading; even fewer reach out to us when they do.

Some days, it’s easy to wish we weren’t writers. To wish we had a more marketable talent. To wish we had skills in some other area, where there was more demand and less competition. Some days, I wonder why God made me a writer instead of a computer genius, so that I could make my family wealthy instead of contributing only in stories. But then I backtrack on that sentence, and zero in:

God made me a writer.

I was born writing. I came out of the womb wearing a pair of eyeglasses with a pencil tucked behind my ear. I was writing before I could spell. Before I was 100% positive that a ‘d’ wasn’t a ‘b,’ and vice versa. I’ve written hundreds, thousands of pages. Millions of words. Most of that was before I was published. Was any of it perfect? No. Was a lot of it stupid and I threw it in the trash? Yes. But I kept at it. Not because I thought anyone would read it. Not because I hoped it would be published. Not because I ever dreamed I would someday become an author. But only because I needed it.

I need writing like I need breathing, like I need my little boy’s hugs in the morning, like I need a glass of cold milk after a hot spaghetti dinner. Each day, I process life and interpret the world through my fiction. I don’t purposefully squeeze opinions, morals, or beliefs as parallels and metaphors. I don’t create in order to cater or pander or preach. But there’s a universe of characters and ideas circulating inside me, and I dutifully transcribe their tales. That’s what I am – just a messenger. If I don’t do my job, these beings will never live, will never fall in love, and their stories won’t be told in the precise way that only I can tell them, if at all. So, that’s why I do it. I don’t really have a choice. My heart makes me.

Some days, it’s easy to look at the numbers and the odds and at previous outcomes and decide, this isn’t worth it. In the material sense, maybe it’s not. Even so, God made me a writer. We weren’t born to do what’s easy. We weren’t made to do what’s safe. Sometimes, we’re not even meant to do what’s logical. We were made to do the thing that makes us forget time and memory and hunger and all the muscular tension that is ourselves, because we are so absorbed, so lost in the moment. For me, that thing is writing.

Some days, it’s easier to be anything but a writer. On those days, I write.