I'll Write Because...

In 1995—almost EIGHTEEN years ago!—when I hung out my shingle as an independent book editor, some writers treated folks like me in roughly the same manner the villagers treated Frankenstein’s creature.

Okay, there may have been fewer torches. But still. 

In those days, as in THESE days, people had a lot to say about the publishing industry. It was failing. Or, no, it was flying. Mass market paperbacks were killing the industry. Or were its salvation. Only horse-thieves and scoundrels offered editorial services. Okay, well, not THOSE highly respected editors. They’re offering a valuable service. 

People touted the merits of self-publishing even then. They talked about dissatisfaction with the filtering systems of the publishing world. Book advances contracted and expanded like the lungs in a towering, amorphous monster that looked different to every viewer.

In other words, things change; things stay the same.

But one thing is constant: you.

And your job, my dear blog reader, is to write. Only that. To tell the best story you can tell, to reach out to not EVERY reader, but that one soul whose heart and mind vibrates at the same frequency as your story.

Write, and stop looking in the rearview mirror. No one is chasing you. No giant hourglass has been tipped over, with the sands of your potential success draining moment by moment. Readers are not closing their eyes en masse. They’re wide open, curious, and waiting for the fantastic story you have in you to write.

They’ll be there. In whatever form. Conveyed through whatever system. They’ll be there if you give them something to love. 

At a recent writing workshop, I gave my students a last day writing prompt: 


Here’s what I said:

I’ll do it because I’ve been given a gift, and only a jerk throws away a gift.

I’ll do it because of that wire—invisible, gossamer—thrumming between my heart and the heart of the world.

I’ll do it because I can, but I may not always be able to. Someday, my faculties may drain away like sand being drawn out to sea. Someday, the fire in my belly may dampen to coals, and someday the worlds that live within me may shrink, shrink and pop out of existence like the picture on an old-fashioned TV.

I’ll do it because there is time enough in the day for it all, time to enter the rich worlds within me AND the worlds of those who share what they love with me. Time enough for it all if I make the best use of those hours.

I’ll do it because it’s not enough to light a torch for others and because it will make that torch burn brighter.

I’ll do it because it’s mine and ONLY mine, because no one else can tell my story the way I can tell it. Someone might do it better; someone worse. Someone’s eyes may alight on different parts of the same world. But MY story, the one that can only come from the sum of my experiences, my heartbreaks and joy, can only come from ME.

I’ll do it because I MUST, because there is no life for me, no real authentic life, unless I’m giving myself to it, unless I’m being ALL of who I’m meant to be.

I’ll do it because others wish it for me. That torch in my hand blazes for the people who put it there, who struck the match, and for all of those who cluster around me, sheltering me, and helping me keep it lit.

I’ll do it because it’s the best of me, because I was born to it, and because it’s a dream I want to keep dreaming for the rest of my life. 

Why will you do it? Why will YOU write?


Let us know in the comments why YOU write...and why you'll keep at it, day after day.

-- Lorin