Sometimes I get stuck. Not so much on my story, but on the idea of this life I’ve made as a writer. I’ll ask myself why I continue, should I stop, how would life be without this need I have to write. Why do people become writers anyway? For me, it was something that evolved naturally. When I realized I enjoyed it, I continued the practice.
Then, real life entered the picture. I grew up, got married, had kids. And, with a little help from the world at large, I began to question my need to write. Or more specifically what exactly I thought I would get from writing. People who don’t write, people who don’t paint or play guitar or take arty black and white photographs–those people tend to think that the act of writing or any creative endeavour is suspicious at best and narcissistic at worst.
If you can’t get paid or get famous, why do it?
This is the point where so many creative people, myself included, get lost. I was lost in that mess for a long time. I felt to be published was to be validated, that payment for creative work is the only valid reason for engaging in it. Payment in some form: recognition, money, fame. What if, I have thought on many a dark night of the soul, I never publish a novel and I die and everyone who knew me says “What a shame. She failed.”
It took me a hellish long time to come around to a couple of ideas that have brought me peace with my creative urges. One, I can’t control what other people say or think about me, so why worry about it. Two, there is something in the act of writing itself that I love. The process, not the result.
Mark Epstein says “Creative acts evoke states of being in which self-consciousness is temporarily relinquished.” While we are writing or painting or playing piano, we are in a blessed state. And that’s really why I write. I like the way I feel when I’m doing it.