Writing is a solitary and time-consuming activity. Why would a person choose to do the lonely work of stringing words together that others may never read or value? That seems quite odd, does it not?
Maybe getting pleasure from writing is a bit like getting pleasure from eating an artichoke. The first artichoke does not seem to be worth the effort, especially if you get a thorn in your finger. But eventually, you learn to consider artichokes a special treat.
Maybe writing is a spiritual experience. That is, when we write, we are engaged in the process of creation. And when we participate in the process of creation, we are as close as we can get to the Creator of the Universe. Or maybe we write because in those brief moments we have the illusion that we are in complete control of the universe.
The satisfaction that comes from stringing words together has to be profound. How else could writers like me withstand the rejection letters? The harsh reviews? The disappointing sales?
We writers might write simply because we want to be remembered. We can leave something of ourselves behind when we are gone forever. We can share the wisdom gained from life’s experiences. In this sense, we write to deny death its due. Our bodies may die, but our writing can live on.
In my fitness articles, I wanted to share information that might be useful to someone seeking to lose weight and get fit. Sometimes I’ve written in my journal simply as a means to clarify my own thinking. Getting my thoughts out of my head and on paper allows me to give them an objective review.
In that vein, sometimes I’ve written as a means to heal my wounds, to help me come to terms with a life blow.
Maybe there are as many reasons to write as there are writers. Even in my own experience, I have different purposes in mind at different times. In my daily journal, I simply want to write about what is going on in my world and how I feel about it. My reflections are collected there.
In my novel writing, I want to tell a story that will resonate with my readers and enrich their lives. But also, selfishly, I want to gain perspective on my own experience and be able to discern patterns over decades. That’s why I wrote a fictional autobiography, Blackbird.
I wrote the first chapter in 1965 or so and tucked the chapter away. My one-year-old and husband demanded my attention. When I resumed work on it nearly fifty years later, I started by composing the same chapter. Only then did I find the original tucked way back in a drawer.
I was amazed that it had survived four moves from four different homes. But I was even more amazed when I compared the two drafts and found fewer than ten words were different. Clearly, this was a book waiting to be written.
Moreover, it isn’t entirely accurate to say I wrote Blackbird. It would be more honest for me to say I took dictation from my subconscious. Every day, I would go into my office and take dictation, typing as fast as I could (and I type very fast), frequently crying aloud as I typed the scenes.
When I finished, I realized that Blackbird was part of a quartet. My Mother’s Daughter would be the second book and The Perfect Mother the third. Those two are finished. Currently, I’m writing The First and Last Lesson, the fourth book in the quartet.
Will I keep writing after that? Of course. As long as I am alive.