Why do I?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I had one of those days yesterday (they come on me from time to time) when I asked myself some serious questions about the writing life.  Does it matter, this thing that I do?  Would life be simpler, less angst-producing, less panic stricken, altogether more orderly and calm, if I stopped writing stories down in favor of living more fully?  Have I, in the end, achieved what I set out to achieve—or did I ever actually have a plan?  What should I have done that I didn't do?  What is still possible?  Why, after all these years, is writing so hard?  I write young adult novels (among other things), but I don't write typical young adult novels, as the gorgeous (inside and out) Booking Mama so poignantly points out on her blog today.  I care a lot about the sort of things that many readers pass right by.  I once tried to write a book that shimmered with big-time commercial possibility.  I failed.  Miserably.  For the life of me I do not know how such a thing gets done.

For a long time I sat in a quiet place thinking about these things.  I'd hear the ping of email coming in from across the way, but I didn't rise to find the news.  Finally, feeling no less good or smart for all my mental meanderings, I returned to my desk, opened my email, and was forcefully reminded of why I am still, after all these years, a writer.  Because I cannot help myself, for one thing.  And because my life would be bereft without the many kind and intelligent souls that writing ushers in.

Yesterday my email was full of saving graces.  You, you graces, know who you are (Julie P., you are pure grace, too), and how grateful I am.  Among the emailers was one James Lecesne—author, actor, activist, man of great heart—who wrote to say that he would be coming into town today to share his remarkable documentary film "After the Storm" at the offices of one forward-leaning law firm. Maybe we could get together beforehand, James said.  Absolutely, I thought.  Absolutely.  And so today, that's where I'll be—downtown breaking bread with James, a man I'd have never had the privilege of meeting had it not been for books and book festivals and a shared interest in writing stories that are invested in language and spring from the heart.

6 comments:

Serena said...

Have a fantastic time and enjoy your outing. Love the photo!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

The world would be a lesser place if you weren't here to write what you do. So glad that commercial attempt didn't work out. What you do is a gift to us. xo

Michael G-G said...

I have been lurking on your blog for a couple of months, starstruck. But yesterday I wrote a blog post on my own blog The Year of Writing Dangerously about how your writing in A Slant of Sun buoyed my life.

So, in answer to "Does it matter, this thing I do?" I say "Yes." And to many more people than you perhaps realize.

Lilian Nattel said...

I am so happy he contacted you and lifted your spirits. Your work does more than you know. My daughter took YAMO to school again.

KFP said...

I just have to say:

1. I second what Caroline Starr Rose said: What you do—both on your blog and via your books—is a gift to us. Speaking for myself and no doubt others: a gift to us, more than you know.

2. Michael G-G uses the words "starstruck" and "buoyed" and I second those words as well. Every day I am buoyed in both my personal life (as a human, as a mother) and writing life by coming here to your blog and reading what you wrote. And even though you have called me friend and I am lucky enough to know you in person— the truth is I remain starstruck from admiration and that is often why I can't even talk to you.

3. Like Michael G-G, A Slant Of Sun was my first wonderful encounter with reading you, before I ever even met you. And as you know, I have been following you as a fan ever since.

I hope you never stop writing books--or your blog.

Julia said...

No point in commercialism if it has no heart. And sometimes I think there's no point in it even if it does have a heart.

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