Why do we do it? We feel that we need an expressive, emotional outlet.
We have a story to tell.
We want to engage with others.
We want people to feel, how we have, when we have read a life-changing book.
We just have to. We just have to get it down, and out of our heads.
That’s some of the reasons why we write.
Have you ever questioned though, what you write?
I did. Yesterday, and quite a few times last week.
Because yesterday, I was at a funeral. It was heartbreaking. There is nothing as humbling and life prioritising, as when you are seeing somebody laid to rest, long before they are due.
Leaving a wife behind. Leaving young children behind.
Just days ago a family member of Hubbie’s recounted how her own Dad lost his Father, when he was only 10.
I remember thinking “shit. Death has been unfairly happening for centuries. It has been unfairly happening FOREVER.”
And it will continue to. UNFAIRLY. HAPPEN. FOREVER.
It’s something we can’t escape. And when faced with questions of life and death, with our subsequent inevitable mortality, and how we should spend our life, making the absolute most of it, I kept thinking of what I love doing, and how I like spending my time…
Where I put my energies, and how I am making a difference.
And that’s where the insecurities began.
Maybe I should be writing about incurable terminal illnesses. Maybe I should be promoting the lack of funding, and urging people to donate, for medical authorities to put more money into research and funding and preventative measures.
Maybe I should be exploiting the child sex trafficking trade, highlighting to the world how absolutely disgusting and soul-wrenching this inexplicable market is. Maybe I should be going to these places and trying to take the kids off the street, shaming the dealers and screaming abuse at them for all to hear, and all to see.
Maybe I should be writing about violence against women. I sure as hell have mentioned it before, but maybe I need to write a book about it. Maybe I need to track down victims and gain statements in order to name and shame the perpetrators, and expose it for the world to see, so the instigators are prevented from repeating their offences, and so that future perpetrators can gain some kind of insight into why it is NOT OKAY TO ABUSE WOMEN.
Or maybe I need to be writing about politics. I mean, Trump. Australian issues. Refugees. Supporting our own farmers and flood victims, versus supporting the unfortunate in disadvantaged countries. I mean, who should be helped? Our own, or people in other countries? Aren’t those abroad also, our own? Isn’t that our human privilege, to be able to help others less fortunate? Or do we just worry about our own backyard?
And yet, what have I been writing about? What have I been pouring all my energies into the last several years?
Why, young adult fiction. Teenage fun, teenage issues. Coming of age stuff. Also, a blog or two, about food, books, and life as we move through it.
Not very life-changing is it?
I stood there in the freezing cold yesterday, pondering all this as a man’s body was lowered into the ground. His life was over. We had seen him only months ago, and there appeared to be so much promise, so much hope for his future. He would beat the bastard disease.
But instead, now, there was nothing. Just memories and a hyphen.
Nothing makes you question life and what you do with it, quite like the death of someone. It provides a warning, an alarm bell, for all those still around to witness it.
No one knows why death happens unfairly. Is it the absence of luck? Is it fate? Is it God? Or is it something greater, or comparatively, something worse… in fact, NOTHING AT ALL?
Could it be just nothing? We’re all just a step away from death, and if we are lucky enough to avoid it all our lives, we have done well???
I don’t know. I spent my time yesterday thinking of why I do, what I do, and I came to this conclusion…
I love to do, what I do. I do it because it makes me happy. I don’t spend hours researching and analysing, trying to change the minds of the authorities and the mass media, trying to sway them to change.
Sometimes an issue will grab me, and I WILL speak out. But my writing is done for my own enjoyment. It’s my own personal brand of therapy. I have to get the words out, the thoughts that stew in me. Whether it is my personal words for my blogs, all the things I like and dislike, what I am appreciate of, and what foods I like to eat and books I like to read, I do it for ME.
If anyone else gains anything from my writings, from my insights, then that is GREAT. That is something special.
As for my fiction… that is also done for my own purposes. My own entertainment. I like the story I see in my head, and I just have to get it out. If the only person who ever reads it are my kids, and they go “Mum that was pretty cool” well, WOO HOO. That is awesome. Of course I will try over the years to try get other people to see it… but at the end of the day, if the only people who see it are me, myself and I, and even if my kids never ever read a word I write… well I don’t deny, I might be a bit sad about that. But it won’t stop me doing what I’m doing. Because what I’m doing is for me and me alone, and no one else. I will gain the satisfaction of knowing that I produced that… and I will be pretty darn happy.
I don’t do it for others. That’s the key. That’s not to say I don’t help, or want to help others or other causes, and try to make a difference elsewhere when my heart cries out for it… but what I mean is I listen to the voice within me, and answer to that voice, that need, alone.
I don’t do things to make other people happy. I do it for me, first and foremost. And when you think about it, that’s the only person in this world you have to keep happy, right? Yourself. You have to keep yourself happy, yourself enriched, because YOU are the only person YOU have to answer to. You and You alone.
And if I’m doing these things, and they’re enriching my life, and making me happy, and filling me with joy – that’s enough, isn’t it? That’s a happy and fulfilled life. Writing about things that aren’t me… what is even the point of it? Who are you doing it for? Why are you doing it for others? It just doesn’t make sense.
Note that the above applies to EVERYTHING in life. If it’s not making you happy… well then find the thing that does, and do it RIGHT NOW.
Start today. We only have one life to live, and nothing is a guarantee. A quote from the author Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic is relevant now:
“You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.”
And that says it all.