Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writing About Writing

"Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

“So okay― there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You've blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

When I write about writing, I’m not writing only about writing.  I’m writing about how finding something, anything, to which we are willing to devote our time and lives.  I call this Purpose and I think it has the following criteria:
First, it is, as I said, something to which we devote our time and lives.  For me, this means late nights, weekends, vacation times, and early mornings.  It is something around which I schedule my day and I do it as long as possible and as often as possible.  I don’t take many breaks from this.
Second, it is something that we believe makes life better, directly or indirectly, for the world, for those around us, and/or for ourselves.  This positive difference can be spiritual, emotional, physical, and/or financial.  Although I said “directly or indirectly” I hope that my work makes a direct difference and that I may see the effects. 
Third, it requires more commitment than enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is great when it occurs.  But it usually only occurs after I begin working, not before. This is closely related to the first principle.  I’m devoting my life to this, not only during the good times, but in the difficult times, when I have little or no enthusiasm, when I’m not getting the response I’d like, when I feel apathetic or even when I’ve lost faith in my ability or my relevance.   I work through loneliness, fear, and, sometimes, even illness.  It’s that important to me.  The only thing that should legitimately prevent me from being in Purpose is an emergency or a new Purpose…and sometimes not even then.
There are also benefits to my writing, or Purpose if writing isn’t your thing.
First, it’s cathartic.  It allows me to work through emotions, such as fear and sadness.  Sometimes the catharsis comes in doing the very act itself.  Other times it comes as a benefit.  Perhaps there’s a little of both.  Once in a while, especially if I’m in a fearful state, catharsis doesn’t come at all.  Still, I do my work and wait for healing to come in another way.
Second, it’s fun.  This is not true all the time, but it’s true, more often than not.  It’s fun because I’m in the moment.  There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.  Even when it’s difficult, it’s fun.  Currently I’m working towards a Master’s degree.  I’ve never worked harder or more diligently in my life (except when I began writing these blogs), but it’s still fun.  It’s certainly more fun than the fun I thought I would have when I avoided my work in the past.
Third, I’m producing something of substance.  Even if what you’re doing doesn’t provide tangible or measurable results, trust me, you’re making a difference.  In writing, I’m fortunate to see the results.  I can count the blogs, reread them, or count the number of pages I’ve written in my journals.  It’s nice to be able to see it, but if all my work, mysteriously disappeared, I would still retain the inner growth I achieved in doing my work.    Purpose always leads to personal growth.

So when I’m writing about writing, I’m not.  I’m writing about how powerful and freeing it is to Get Started and to Keep Going every day.  And that’s worth writing about.