Why I write
Well, it’s been a hell of a week and a half around here, but I’ve found (as I have in other hard times) that writing can be a pretty good balm for unhappiness.
Since returning from my father-in-law’s funeral in New Orleans, I’ve been slowly trying to reestablish a (small) sense of normalcy. Writing has been a big part of this. I’ve continued work on my newest novel project, Project Awesome, which (coincidentally) addresses issues of loss, and I’ve started revising one of the shorts I wrote during my story-a-week experiment.
The Olympics have helped, too – nothing like a multi-week marathon of excellence and victory to lift your spirits (or, if you watch too much, numb you to everything).
This summer has also been one of travel for me. In fact, out of the 11 weeks since the semester ended I’ve spent over half (6) of them on the road. And…I’m leaving again on Tuesday for a week-long visit to Seattle. I thought this might have a negative effect on my writing productivity, but I ran the numbers and I’ve actually written a respectable amount.
Since the summer started, I’ve drafted 15,000 new words on Project Awesome. I’ve read and processed feedback on ABSENT and devised a plan for revising that novel. Finally, I’ve drafted four new short stories (totaling about 8,000 words). I didn’t write at all in Spain, or last week in New Orleans, so excluding those three weeks, that’s about 3,000 words a week (not counting the revision work on ABSENT).
Not my highest weekly average, but not bad for such a topsy-turvy few months. More than anything, I’ve been reminded through all of the highs and lows of this summer that writing isn’t just something I want or like to do, it’s something I need to do. Writing gives me a sense of purpose and strength.
Do I want to be successful? Do I want to sell books and make money? Of course I do, and I believe with hard work and patience, those things will come. More and more, though, I’m realizing they are not the reason I continue to write.
I write because it is the most fun thing I’ve ever done, because it provides me with challenges and puzzles and stretches my imagination and brings me joy. I also write because it’s the best way I can find to make sense of life – especially when life hands me a bucket of really rotten lemons and I have no choice but to drink their bitter juice.
Like right now.
So, if you will excuse me, I think I’m going to make some tea (the other balm for my soul) and go write.