I never “decided” to write.
When asked “what are you,” I never say I’m a wife, mother, grandmother — or even a woman. I automatically say “I’m a writer.” Being a writer is embedded in my concept of “self-hood,” if I am not that, then I’m not sure what I am. Writing was my profession, but I was a writer before I earned a salary doing it. I will always be a writer, and it has nothing to do with whether or not I sell my words … or even whether or not anyone else reads them. Whether or not I am still a professional writer is a different question.
Unlike other professions — probably this is true for everyone who makes a living in the creative arts — what you do is so much more than a paycheck. It’s the way you synthesize your experiences. It’s a compound of emotion, intellect, visual and physical stimuli, It is part of you as long as you breathe, long after paychecks stop coming and often, even if the paychecks never arrive in the first place. Writing is so deeply embedded in who I am that I can’t imagine not writing.
If it turns out there is an afterlife, I’m sure I will be writing about it.
A friend asked me why I do this, why I blog. So I asked her why she plays golf.
Writing is me. It’s the sport I play, the goal I for which I work. We do what we do because we love it, need to do it, or both. Writing is like breathing. I can strangle on words I’ve failed to use. My friend needs to compete, to be active and she needs to win.
I can’t begin to count the number of people who have told me they want to be writers, but don’t know how. They want me to tell them how. That they asked the question tells me they are not writers. If you are a writer, you write. You will write and will keep writing because it’s what you are. It is as much a part of you as your nose or stomach.
Reading is fun and I think it’s part of writing. It’s educational, and inspirational. It lets you connect with other people and places who never existed, possibly never could never exist. But that’s what writing is about, isn’t it? I know there are other ways to connect. You can Zoom, Facetime, and Skype. You can connect via email, telephones, even actual written letters though that has become a rarity, even for those of us who otherwise can’t stop writing. As long as there are computers, printers, and books, life goes on.
Writing can’t be replaced. Accept no substitute.