Remembering Why I Write

“Sometimes I think I should quit writing and do something simple, like neurosurgery.”

I give this answer from time to time when people ask about my writing or when I’m faced with a insurmountable writers block. Sometimes I say “rocket science” or “quantum physics” instead of “neurosurgery,” but the gist remains the same.

It gets a laugh out of people. More importantly, it deflects attention and saves me from admitting I feel inadequate.

sitting

This never happened before I became a writing major. Back in high school, I remember constant excitement as I switched between drafts, writing whatever caught my fancy at any given moment. I could ramble for hours about my ideas, and I proudly finished draft after draft and filed them away for revisions. Publishing hovered in the future somewhere, waiting for the day I had edited something to my satisfaction and found an agent, or whatever it was you had to do to get published. I didn’t know. I was happy and confident.

Now I’m a writing major. Professors expound on the near impossibility of getting published and preach the importance of racking up bylines—any bylines, in any genre—because nobody will take an unpublished author seriously. My files are stuffed with scrapped drafts, “need five more revisions” novels, and short stories with long rejection notes.

My files are also filled with publications—but not as many as I’ve learnt to need. More people read my writing now than ever before in my life, but I’m less content than ever before. I’ve been taught I need more, always more. And someone else always has more impressive numbers or more exciting bylines than I do.

This week, a couple people wrote to tell me they appreciated my writing, and suddenly I saw my life in perspective. I don’t write for faceless numbers. I write for people—people I care about.

I write because words are a gift I want to pass on. Because other writers gave voice to my own fears and dreams. Because if I can touch one person’s life in even the minutest way—if I can bring about a single smile or let a single person know they’re significant—I’ve accomplished my purpose.

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Writing isn’t about getting published or developing a fan base. It’s not about being the best or having the most bylines. Writing is about loving words and sharing ideas, working out impossible dreams and inspiring conversation. My writing is an extension of me, not the other way around, and that’s a vital difference. I define my work. My work does not define me.

I write for the joy of the language.

So this post is for the artists who crave recognition: someone sees you. Even if it’s one person, you serve a purpose. Your efforts are valuable if you inspire a single new thought, even if the new thought is your own.

It’s for the writers who face rejection slips: your words matter. Remember why you write.

Don’t write for a byline. Write for the joy of the language.

 

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About Elizabeth Syson

While consuming tea and coffee at an alarming rate, I read and write everything I can and pursue my unnatural love of copyediting. My hobbies include learning new instruments and languages, riding horseback, sketching very badly indeed, and periodically recommitting to doing yoga regularly. View all posts by Elizabeth Syson

11 responses to “Remembering Why I Write

  • oddauthoramandamccoy.com

    I was feeling really redundant today, and your words inspired me to keep writing and following my passion. Thank you for the smile on my face!

    Liked by 1 person

  • KathleenBDuncan

    There are so many blogs on grief. I often feel redundant. Why would anyone want to read MY words? And yet, they do. Yes, it’s not about the many but the one. For me it’s about the One. And if my words honor the One and give hope to one, I’ll keep writing.

    Thank you for the reminder. And I’m one of the many who enjoy reading your words.

    Like

    • Elizabeth Syson

      Sometimes I think that there have to be a multitude of voices because there are a multitude of people. One voice can’t serve all of them, and while there are always those to whom we won’t be the right voice, there will always be people for whom we are. I love this vivid depiction of how it works—my words encouraging you to keep writing words that encourage so many other people. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • KathleenBDuncan

        This month I have mostly reblogged articles by bloggers I follow. Two reasons:

        1. I felt like I have nothing of value to say and thought they can say it better anyway.
        2. I enjoy giving exposure to other writers. My blog averages 5K-10K visits each month, but readers visit due to one article that went viral. Reblogging other writers helps those visitors find blogs they might not have seen otherwise.

        You’ve helped me with #1.

        Like

      • KathleenBDuncan

        And I just reblogged this article.

        Liked by 1 person

  • gene

    “Write for the joy of the language.” I really like that!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Elizabeth Syson

    It’s so great that you use your reach to help other bloggers! I love the sense of community among writers who help each other out, and I definitely appreciate the promotion. But I’m convinced you also have worthwhile things to say yourself and that people will listen. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Janet Boxx

    Reblogged this on Boxx Banter and commented:
    Fellow blogger Elizabeth Syson remembers why she writes. The following quotes in particular resonate with me:

    “I write for people—people I care about. . . Because other writers gave voice to my own fears and dreams. Because if I can touch one person’s life in even the minutest way—if I can bring about a single smile or let a single person know they’re significant—I’ve accomplished my purpose.”

    “Writing is about loving words and sharing ideas, working out impossible dreams and inspiring conversation. My writing is an extension of me, not the other way around, and that’s a vital difference. I define my work. My work does not define me.”

    I thought some of you might love words, the perspectives and worlds they reveal, the ideas they inspire. A simple turn of phrase can prove to be the key that unlocks the door to a deeper understanding, to peace long sought, to laughter in dark times, to joy or the fellowship of validation and affirmation. Words are powerful, they build up or tear down, comfort or destroy, clarify or obscure, bridge gaps or increase distance. May we all exercise wisdom and discernment in their use for the pen really can be mightier than the sword!

    Liked by 1 person

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