Many of us are lucky to have people around us who understand or at least support our writing habits and dreams. Even with the best support, I sometimes feel like my writing is inconsequential in the face of so many pressing world problems. Do you ever feel like your writing doesn’t matter? Do ever think of giving up writing? I do.
I’ve been working on a novel and am hesitant to finish it fearing it’ll never be good enough. My short stories never win competitions. My poetry hasn’t been published. I sometimes labor for days on a story or memoir vignette before submitting it and, even then, only about 20 percent of them are ever published. Even my blog has only a handful of readers. Maybe I should take up a hobby like knitting instead. At least I’d have a lumpy scarf or pair of socks to show for my effort.
It’s easy to feel disheartened, and I wonder why I keep returning to the page each day, especially when I’m distracted, sick, or dealing with a crisis. I spent some time thinking about why writing is so important to me.
Writing isn’t just a hobby, it’s a calling, and one I ignored until later in life. Writing is a part of who I am and not something I take lightly.
I’m going to die one day. Sure, memories live on, but eventually, there’ll be no one alive who ever knew me. My writing may well outlive me even if I have no audience for my stories right now. I think of Eudora Welty, Sue Monk Kidd, Mary Karr, and Pearl Buck, inspirational women writers whose writing outlived them.
If I don’t exercise, I get cranky. If I don’t write, I also get cranky. I do some of my best thinking with a pen in my hand or with a keyboard under my fingers. Getting things off my chest and onto the page is extremely therapeutic, more so than talking about problems.
Writing allows me to reach across the world and touch people’s lives by opening up new possibilities for them, revealing some small truth, giving them an experience they wouldn’t otherwise have had, or sparking their own memories.
Just last week, I received a number of unsolicited Facebook messages from readers whom I didn’t know. They read one of my memoir vignettes in a Good Old Days Magazine and searched for me on Facebook.
“We love your stories!” they said. “They help us remember some of our own memories and experiences. They’re the highlight of our day!”
I was touched and surprised. I’ve been content being anonymous and assumed folks didn’t pay much attention to my byline. I was wrong.
I was struck with some important realizations. Although I may not always experience any clear evidence of it, my writing matters to readers who often remain invisible to me. My writing matters, for I unknowingly touch people’s lives. My writing matters, the words living beyond this time and space.