Why I Keep Writing
I started working on a short story last night. Before I knew it two hours had passed and I had a nine-minute story I was proud of. I can’t recall the last time I was so engaged in what I was doing. So “in the zone.”
It felt incredible.
I’ve been writing just for myself, for the most part, all of my life. I had a brief year when I belonged to a writing workshop and that was great for a variety of different reasons but truth be known, my audience there was never more than 15 people and most of them would have had a stroke if I wrote some of the things I’ve written about here on Medium. That’s just the way it is when your group is made up of people over 50 and you are living in a conservative, small town in Texas. I loved my writing workshop but it did keep me a little bit caged.
Medium allows me to fly. I can write as much or as little as I want. The only specific plan I have for myself is to write once a week for the publication, The Weekly Knob, using their weekly prompt. Those are generally pieces of fiction. Some weeks I write other articles, pieces of non-fiction and memoir. If I’m extra busy though, I can opt not to write at all. Once I started writing for The Knob, I’ve managed to write a story every time the publication has offered a new prompt.
Since I started publishing on Medium I haven’t made a lot of money. I have, however, been curated (which to me means that somebody in charge took notice, read more than one of my stories and thought the writing was good enough to feature it in the community.) I’ve also been named Top Writer in Fiction. Fiction is where I feel I am really flexing my creative muscles. I can’t begin to explain how amazing it feels when I see Top Writer in Fiction in my profile.
I’ve spent almost my entire adult life working creatively. I’ve done a lot of different jobs and have been, for the most part, self employed. Most of this creative work has been in visual arts, original ceramics to be more specific. Getting compliments on my work was a regular feature of this working life. When I sold my creative work at art festivals it was at shows that required going through a jury process, so when I showed up I had already been deemed “good enough” to participate. When people made a purchase, they were taking something “real” away with them. There was always an understanding that they might be buying something because they were, after all, attending an art show where artists were selling their work. Did they love my work so much they just had to have a piece for their home? Sometimes. Or were they making a purchase because they just happened to need a gift for someone?
When someone likes your writing the benefits for the reader are not so tangible. What is in it for them might simply be enjoyment. Maybe your writing provoked a thought or they might have strongly identified with your point of view. Maybe they laughed at your humor. What makes someone prefer your writing over someone else’s? It can be your style, your voice or a combination of other attributes.
Unavoidable changes in my life caused me to have to stop creating for art shows and since then I make a pretty decent living selling antiques and vintage collectibles on Ebay. It’s a way to pay my bills that I find enjoyable and stress free. There isn’t really anything creative about the process though.
Now that I’ve started writing on Medium I find myself struggling to stay focused on my Ebay work so that I can complete the money making goals I set for myself. I take care of business so I can get to the place where I am free to write. It’s a little bit like eating your veggies so you can have dessert.
I admit, I really like dessert.
If you look at the scope of my life, creativity has been at the forefront and I’m grateful to now have an outlet that doesn’t require all of the travel, bad weather and uncertainty of selling my artwork.
Finding something to write about still comes easy for me. I have plenty to say. I will soon be 63 and now that I’m writing more I can easily see how much living I’ve done and how much I have to share about this life of mine. I like crafting fiction that weaves my life experiences into stories that show the meanings of what I’ve learned. Often I write to provide a little bit of comic relief. Sometimes I am working out painful memories or things that have been hard to endure.
There are stories in me that want to pour out of my typing fingertips.
I let them.
When I go long, (I know I do!) I don’t worry about it. I get to be the one who has the say about length, voice, subject matter, vision. So, if I make a few bucks, even if it is only a few bucks, it is still like icing on my cake because I’ve already won by following my own path.
My family used to (lovingly) roll their eyes at me when I got started telling a story. They listened though. And now I get to use those skills to craft something bigger and longer lasting.
Do I need kudos (or claps) to feel like I’ve done something well? I know I have a way with words but honestly, my self esteem isn’t built on anything like claps or kudos. It is nice though. When someone responds positively to something I’ve written it is gratifying to read the comment. It’s fantastic to have a reason to say “thank you for reading.”
I’m not the most prolific writer here. I don’t depend on my writing for an income and as I’ve said I don’t really need the strokes to my ego. Without claps and financial gain of any sort I would still write.
Because I love it. It’s what I do.