Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why Keep Writing?


I tried tonight to explain this thing that I'm doing. It wasn't easy. I started by explaining the idea of writing 750 words every day. While my audience was willing to believe me, to get behind this thing I am doing, I don't know if I was really getting through to her. It's the same old problem I have of not knowing the words to express how something like this can be important enough to do it every single day and to publish the writing I'm doing. In fact, I'm not sure I entirely know why I'm doing it. Well, that's not true. I know why I'm doing it, but I'm not great at articulating it.

Here's the thing: it all comes down to doing something I love.

I think that all too often we cast aside the things we love in favor of the things we feel we have to do. We are willing to put up with buckets of shit in the pursuit of making a living. (I know I could have said that in a prettier fashion, but the message is more accurately stated with a word like "shit".) We have been taught that the natural way of life is to put up with whatever we have to in order to earn a buck. That's how so many of us trap ourselves in terrible work because it pays the bills. When I talk about how I choose to write a lot, people wonder a couple of things: One, how can a person enjoy that crap, and two, how can anyone make a living at it?

These are pretty good questions, it's just that I don't give a damn about them when I'm writing. I would love to be able to make a living doing nothing but writing and maybe someday I will, but for now writing is about something other than the dollar. I publish every day of the week and don't make a cent from it. I put the words up on a blog that doesn't even have Google Ads on the side because I don't believe that that is any kind of long-term solution to making money. I'm also not thinking about how to make a ton of money from this writing right now. The goal is to learn how to write and how to do something on a regular basis. I've learned a lot already, some of which I have taken to heart, some not so much. Until I have learned a great deal more, there's no need to think too much about money.

Besides, thinking about money gets in the way of doing something worth much money. Put it this way: too many of us are in jobs that pay the bills but don't feed the soul. I'm fortunate in that my day job is one that also feeds my soul albeit in diminishing amounts. I teach alternative education high school English to at-risk kids which is a thing I'm good at and which gives me a good amount of happiness. I'm not digging ditches or pushing a lawnmower, two things that would bring me to misery.

When I was describing the 750 words I write to my friend this evening, I should have said that I enjoy it even when it's painful. Or I could have invoked those old bumper stickers that say, "I'd rather be doing whatever" or "A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work." I'd rather be writing and a bad day of writing is still way better than a good day at most anything else. It's a joyous creation. Even tonight, when I feel as if my writing isn't going anywhere great, it's still good.

One thing is for sure, publishing at 11:45 at night is no good. I need to publish in the morning so that people will see it in the day. I will be making that shift over the course of this week. So there may be a day of no post or of two posts (depending on the level of gumption I have) so that I can get used to publishing in the morning each day. I hope that this will get more people reading, but I also need to adjust and get my writing on to topics that engage people's interest. I've begun to see some of the patterns of that and will be working in those areas more.

Still, no matter what else, this has to be a labor of love, an effort that brings about joy. Otherwise, why write on?