You run marathons for the joy of running, right? Surely it can’t be for the prize money. But you don’t devote your life to it, either. What do I do? Oh, I’m a marathon runner – oh, and I also work as a nuclear scientist, you know, during the week.
But, you’re a writer. You know how it goes. Writing is like breathing – like running. When it flows it’s golden, and when it doesn’t, you worry about getting it flowing. Writing is… everything.
But, everything else is everything, too. Somehow, some way, we all find a way to weasel in a little time to write – as I’m writing this, my daughter’s getting a cavity filled.
But, where running is glorious simply for the sake of running, writing doesn’t achieve its true glory until it’s been read. Until you transform someone’s thinking with your ideas, writing is just a mental exercise.
You know the difference between writers and wannabe writers, right? One does, while the other wishes he did. Writing tons of stuff and packing it away, never to be read, doesn’t do it, either. If no one reads your stuff, you’re not writing, just expressing.
So, what can the prize be? I am truly blessed to work as a professional videographer, writing and telling industrial stories. I am married to a terrific woman, have three successful, wonderful children, and live in a great house in a beach town. Hello?
For all that, my writer’s eye is still attracted to that shining bauble of intellectual immortality, that celestial club that includes Shakespeare and Hemingway, Milton, and, yes, Rowling. That club that persists far beyond the wash of generations.
Isn’t that why you write? Aren’t your ideas larger than your life? Don’t your characters extend beyond you?
If you impress somebody – change their mind, make them laugh, bring them an image they’d never seen – is that it? Are you done?
Or are you like a machine, an authorial savant, cranking and cranking out scenes and images, ad infinitum?
Is there a prize – a golden carrot of immortality? Does it show up one day in the mail? And, if you got it, could you stop writing?
These are the things that keep me up at night… well, that and seeking the flow… and making sure the mortgage is paid and the plumbing doesn’t leak and getting the dog’s teeth fixed and paying the taxes and that odd ticking when I turn the car and my son’s upcoming wedding and finding a good school for my daughter…
You’re a writer. You know how it goes.