Why We Write
Of course you could go outside. Take the dog and do what any normal person would do on a nice afternoon: go sit in the sun. But there’s something different about a writer. Something else that makes a person sit inside on a beautiful day, wake up and do work on one project or another without any sign of payment.
There are always other things you could do, even ways to earn money. Instead, you sacrifice relationships, push away loved ones and demand time to yourself. You leave friends at the bar, make your life boring in the name of ritual, trying to stay clean.
Others will earn more money doing anything you can think of— hawking cars, making sales, sitting in offices, betting on stocks—and spend free time in excitement, travel, getting drunk, doing wild stunts. Maybe it’s foolishness. No one says writers are saints, not by a long shot. But you try to survive and carry on, do your level best to make it through another day and come back to the desk again tomorrow.
Who knows if this road is wise? Once taken, there are places to get off. Perhaps you think of them, sitting at the desk on a cold, damp morning. Maybe you even regret. But you won’t think about this when you’re writing.
Practice is the heart of the thing. With long meditation, slow pulse and clean conscience, you test yourself in belief and endurance. This leads you forward to a new kind of living, a different way.
The pull of putting words down, getting work done. The importance of the job ahead, or that it’s begun. There’s the time in the morning between waking and getting to the desk that’s all anticipation. Wanting to get to the new words. The fear of not knowing what will come, or if you’ll be up to the task.
Then the satisfaction of knowing you’ve worked well and done your best. That sustains many mornings, leads to more dreams of writing again, dreams of a life spent waking and coming to the page, looking out the window and knowing I’m doing it.
You can almost feel the calming of your blood. There’s the sense of losing touch with second-guessing. Uncertainty drops away. Time passes with satisfaction. You know I’m writing. I have written.
And that makes the day worthwhile, makes all the difference in everything that comes after. How you see the world, deal with trials, drive your car or walk down a grocery aisle—all of it altered and smoothed and made more wonderful. All just from knowing that you did what you were supposed to do today: you wrote.
Seth Harwood has written two novels, Jack Wakes Up and Young Junius. A third, This Is Life, will be available in October. For more of his writing, thoughts on publication and free stories as well as free audio downloads of his work, visit sethharwood.com For more on this topic, read my follow-up here.
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