(Happy Throwback Thursday! This article was originally published on May 3, 2016, but its sentiments remain fresh.)
Ever question why you need to write? Not want, need. According to Gary Garrison, it’s because you have “The Gift.”
That’s the name of a short essay that Garrison sent out to fellow members of the Dramatists Guild of America. A friend sent it to me because she found it inspiring and, well, true.
Although Garrison was referring to playwriting, his words apply to bloggers, short-story writers, novelists and others of that ilk. All of them “have the ability to create whole, intricate, dimensional worlds and to people them with infinitely interesting, complex beings.”
Wait…Bloggers create worlds?
Of course they do. If you can’t translate real-life experiences to the screen in ways that resonate with readers, they’ll stay away in droves. Besides, fiction blogs are a thing. A whole lot of poetry exists out there, too.
Playwrights, poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, songwriters, bloggers and artists in any other genres I’m forgetting all have “the glorious ability to make entire groups of people think about their lives, their loves, their relationships, their histories, their politics and to take an action – a real action – because of something you question, say, show, demonstrate or illuminate,” Garrison says.
Feel better about what you do?
‘Highly productive, creative, purposeful’
Maybe you think it would feel a whole lot better if you could make a living at it. Boy, does Garrison understand that. Remember, he’s talking to playwrights. How many opportunities do they have for people to experience their words?
“I know you lose your direction, or passion, or purpose, or drive, or energy sometimes. I know time’s short, money’s tight and life’s hectic,” he says.
“(I) know you can write for weeks/months/years with little to no recognition. But that’s the price you pay for being given a gift that few have and so many treasure,” he says.
Anyone who’s poured heart and/or soul into a website, an essay, a song cycle, some fanfic or anything else understands this. You wonder how to get eyes on your words. You try to balance vocation and avocation, your family life with your creative one. You sacrifice sleep for creativity. Sometimes you sacrifice everything for your vision.
Some of us will succeed, i.e., we’ll find a way to make a living from what we love. Some of us won’t. But we never know until we try.
And honestly: Even if you knew today that you’d never make a full living from your writing, would you be able to quit doing it?
Garrison thinks you shouldn’t have to make that choice. We can’t all be high-earning Stephen Kings, Tom Stoppards or Jeff Goinses, but “that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t be highly productive, creative, purposeful writers who leave a sizable footprint everywhere we step.”
Take a break from writing if you need it. But if you’re really a scribbler, you won’t be able to stay away. You write because it’s in you to write. Go do what you’re meant to do.