Why we do what we do

Writing.

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.

 

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When you are a writer…

and you’ve been sitting at your computer for a while, and inspiration is lacking in your head, and your fingers don’t hit at the keypad properly, words like remainding suddenly appear to be gramattically correct, until the red line appears under remainding, and you highlight it and you go ‘oh that’s right, it’s remaining.’ And then you question whether it’s two ts, or ms or ls in gramattically, and which is meant to go where, and you refuse to put the comma between the t and s even though the spellcheck is going bezerk, but you tell the spellcheck that it’s not a possessive its a plural so suck that, then you ask yourself ‘how does one spell bezerk?’ And begin a google chase over its origins and find out it is actually a word in the dictionary and is spelt berserk, and does not have a z making it all rap/hipster. Then you wonder why you even thought it was urban, the term berserk, and remember that urban dictionary website that you once checked out telling you about all the street lingo, and discover the term ‘procaffenating’ which pretty much means “But first, coffee” but less poshy. Then you realise the computer has gone all red line on you again, and instead of writing your novel you have been googling and procrastinating with terms like procaffenating and have just come upon the term ‘jeanjerking,’ and seriously now it is time to go.

Showing Up when it’s Hard

I’d been struggling with a lot of things lately. Friday night I found myself tired, run down, feeling flat about the next few days, and depressed that I hadn’t written for a while. And it wasn’t my blog, or my journal that I was feeling down about. It was my main project, my book, the one that I actually need to knuckle down on, push my sleeves up, and get into the nitty gritty of. I’d been feeling uninspired for several weeks, and though I do, genuinely, always have something to do, the words ‘no excuses’ kept circling around in my head. These words made me angry at myself, because I knew it to be true.

I’ve written on my blog before that I find it hardest to write when I’m sad, or feeling down and depressed. I was so shitty with myself on Friday, that I decided to prove a point to myself, and I really wanted to get out of my funk too, despite the hard reality that when you’re in a hole, it’s really quite difficult to pull yourself out of it. It’s like looking for a rope to climb out of your hole from, only there’s no rope in sight, only mounds of dirt threatening to bury you.

I opened my laptop and journalled my angry thoughts for about 20 minutes. That purge seemed to help. Next I opened the Miranda Kerr book I’ve been getting through in times of much needed motivation: “Treasure Yourself.” I went through about 20 pages of motivational quotes and affirmations, before ending on one talking about taking advantage of the sunshine. I knew it was going to be a beautiful day the next day, and so I left it at that.

Then the most daunting of them all. I turned back to my laptop and opened up chapter 1 of my book, my second book in the series as it were, and re-read it, in the hope that some glimmer of inspiration, of a fantastic idea and great sprawling plan would start to eventuate and I would know how to progress my characters onto the next part.

And the most amazing thing happened. Ideas, scenarios floated into my head. I weighed up one, I weighed up the other. Words, thoughts, conversations started to roll… and I started to write.

An hour later and I was previewing the fact that I had doubted writing at all, and had instead ended up with just over 2 pages. And it wasn’t too bad.

I’m continually amazed at the power of the word. I know it can be very different for other writers, but so often when I think I’m not in the right zone, don’t have enough time, or am lacking the ideas, if I just ‘show up,’ the rest flows. A good 70% of my first book wrote itself. I just had to dedicate myself to sitting down long enough for it.

And I was so proud of myself. I’d been so down and out, and had all by myself, without any help or interference from anyone else, pulled myself out of it. Like the crippled donkey stuck in a hole, being buried by its owner for being disadvantaged, who took the soil being heaped upon him as stepping stones to make his way out, so I too, the proverbial donkey, found my way out by looking around me and asking ‘what can I do to help myself?’

Only you can help yourself. Don’t rely on anyone else for YOUR happiness.

Know you will have off days. Accept this, and live in the moment of being sad. IT’S OK to feel like this.

Don’t make yourself feel bad for not pursuing your goals, ALL of the time. You are only HUMAN. As long as you get back up, it’s fine.

Just SHOW UP. Showing up is more than half the work.

I’m really going to dedicate myself to moving my characters forward now. The writing bug has come back and I’m over the moon. If I’m not blogging, writing about food or reviewing books, it’s ok: I’m still here, reading Austen and eating out (though I’m probably re-visiting tried and true restaurants rather than new establishments). I just need to focus on this other (really important) part of my life now.

I never go far from the art of writing. It makes me happy, so it makes sense that I should do a lot of it.

As my coffee mug tells me: “Do what you love, love what you do.”

Up in Lights

I just had a weird thing happen. I just saw the title of my yet-unpublished-bound-to-happen book as part of a title of a television series.

It was, without saying too much, only kind of, yet exactly the same as my title, though there is another section to my book title that wasn’t there, as simultaneously there was something in the TV series title that is not in mine.

Still. I just kind of stared, letting the image of the name burn into me, recognising that the name is there, out there, in television land, in this other medium, in a media form as such… it exists.

Just not as mine. Not attributed to me. Not yet.