Why write anyway?

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I’ve heard it said before: writing is not for the faint of heart. Like acting, you’re only as good as your last gig. Where you can go from being praised to vilified from one piece of work to the next, and it’s almost impossible to know which one it will be, half of the time.

I was reminded of this recently, in my day job as a features writer, where I can sometimes find myself ocsilaitating between intense highs and lows with articles that do well, touch people and invite readers to sing my praises (oh the joy) and others that incite readers to fury (oh the wine that is consumed) … it happens … sometimes with the same article, even.

In many ways, writing can be a bit of a thankless task, where the are no real guarantees for success. It’s even worse for novelists, as it takes an inordinately long time (for most of us mortals) to write a novel, anywhere from 3 months (I have heard tales of such prowess) to 18 months to 5 or even 10 years, and as more and more writers opt to go the self-publishing route it may end up costing a bit of money, and after all of that people may not like your book, in fact, they may even hate it. And worse still, you won’t even be able to talk back to them or defend yourself because it’s considered bad form. I mean, talk about giving all the power away.

Yet for all of that (phew, yes, depressing wasn’t I?) the truth is, there’s intense strength in being a writer because it takes serious guts to be a writer. To put yourself out there time and time again to be open to other people’s opinions. It’s not like accountancy, where you’ve got it right if everything is all neatly balanced – it’s a subjective sport (sport being the operative word, particularly with some) where it’s a guarantee that your work just won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Don’t get me wrong, writing, is without a doubt the great love of my life, but it is one of those gorgeous drama-filled love sagas rather than a light-hearted rom com, it has its ups and downs, intense sorrows, and setbacks, but it also offers immense joy and fulfilment.

The trouble is, writing is never easy, really. I remember an editor once telling me that it’s one of those few professions that don’t get easier over time. It’s just never the type of job you can do on auto-pilot. Not that you don’t get more proficient – because, thankfully, you do, but because it’s a profession that takes everything out of you (for most writers anyway) so that what you’re left with is your bleeding heart on the page.  And there are times, I admit, when I’ve wished that I wanted to do something, anything else, but I don’t. I can’t see me being satisfied otherwise. It’s like living your life with all your senses turned up, it’s overwhelming, yet wondrous too, and if one day they returned to normal, you’d always know just what you were missing.

What do you think – do you feel that writing is like a calling, one you can never ignore? Or are you that rare specimen – where it does come easy, I’d love to hear about it!

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2 thoughts on “Why write anyway?

  1. Writing as “one of those gorgeous drama-filled love sagas rather than a light-hearted rom com” is such an accurate description. Writing, when it does come easily(and sometimes it does), is a gift. Most of the time it’s a struggle! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! You’re so right, sometimes it is easy and it is a gift. I do love those days … or rare minutes 🙂 I seem to forget they exist when things get a bit hard, grin.

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