…if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is — excited.” – Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing, (Bantam Books, CA, 1992), page 4.
For a long time this has been one of my favorite quotes. Certainly, there are times when the writing is challenging, when I am not able to muster such zest and fun for the work that needs to be done — but when I step back and give myself a moment, I find that it is still there. The love, the gusto. It is there because writing is a part of my lifeblood.
I write because I have to. Simple (and complex) as that. It is a part of who I am. I want to say, “It is a part of who I am, as much as breathing and eating and sleeping.” But that’s not true. If I stopped breathing, or eating, or sleeping, I would die. If I stopped writing I’m sure I wouldn’t be as pleasant a person to be around (because my writing does improve my mood, I’m pretty sure). If I stopped writing I don’t know what would happen, but I would still love to do my research, I would still want to tell people about my thoughts, and those stories would still live in my mind (I just might spend a LOT more time staring off into space). But I wouldn’t die. So, perhaps more honest would be to say that writing is a part of me, like reading, like dancing, like music, like good friends, laughter, and the occasional good cry. It is something that I embrace, that enriches my being, and that I struggle to imagine what life would be like without it.
I know that, at the core of it, I write for myself. Sometimes this is obvious, like the journals and diaries that I’ve been keeping sporadically since I was a child — I’d be mortified if anyone ever read those. Just like some people think best when they are speaking out-loud, and others need complete silence, I find that I usually am able to best sort out my thoughts when I have a pen on the page. It can be cathartic, it can comfort, it can stir me to action, and it can help me ask questions in new ways that provide clarity. Continue reading Who For?