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One’s Writing and It’s Purpose

For the last two days Stephen Eliasson has talked about his role as playwright and copywriter, as well as his moving into the children’s writing field. One of the specifics that Stephen spoke about was his purpose for writing. “Ultimately, the reason I write is to share my understanding of the world, “ he said.

That statement begs each writer to discover his/her own purpose for writing. Many years ago, all I heard from those who wanted to write for a living was, “I want to be famous and wealthy, the next Jacqueline Suzanne, the next Sydney Sheldon.” Fame and fortune became equated with writing for quite a while, at least in popular thought.

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t pursue a writing career back then. Deep down inside I knew that that style of writing was beyond me. I had neither the temperament to create such characters nor the patience for such epic family histories and convoluted plots. I didn’t think that way, didn’t see the world in such grim, self-serving ways. The books, not the writers. I had trouble reading those books, much less emulating the styles.

And so I left writing to a mere daydream to be visited on occasion, to sigh wistfully and to look upon with admiration and a minor sense of loss. I couldn’t take writing seriously if that’s how I had to write.

How many potentially marvelous writers, I wonder, did the same thing. How many talents left the wordsmith path due to comparing themselves with the ones who went before them, rather than allowing themselves just to write as themselves without comparison?

Whether all writers continually compare themselves with all others in the field or not, for humans such comparisons are second nature. We learn to do it while very young and continue with the practice until death. I’ve heard many older people fuss over how their funeral is to go because they don’t want to be buried in a casket of less value then the one the next door neighbor had been given. Don’t laugh. It happens every day.

Yet, ones like Stephen seems to have his priorities straight.

They don’t scramble through the market sheets and websites scrounging for whatever potential market there might be for their precious gem of a manuscript, sometimes coming up dry and at other times selecting just the right-sounding publication. Do you ever ask yourself why writers perform this scramble?

Why expend so much energy and time on this one activity? And how often do you do your marketing research? Do you set aside one day a week to find your markets, and send out those loose jewels that have been cluttering your slush pile before the market escapes? Do you always write for a specific market and never just for the pleasure of telling a single story or expressing a single opinion with no particular market in mind?

I have to emphasize something here. I’m still new enough to the game to want to write only those things I can have fun with, that really fire me up, interest me, or feel just right. I don’t find a market first. Somehow, that feels counter-intuitive to me, even though in a business sense it’s necessary.

There is nothing that I can hear in me that screams of greatness in either style or talents. Do you hear such screams or whispers when you put words on paper or key them into the computer?

Did the long dead icons like Dickens, Longfellow, Chaucer, Poe think of themselves as great writers, supreme among their contemporaries? Most wrote commentaries of their societies, telling the stories that weren’t spoken of in polite society. But did they, even once, ever consider that their words would be quoted by so many for so long for reasons unknown?

I can admit that I never consider the possibility that my words will live so long beyond me. If I am true to who I am, I will only write as I do now. I will become more technically skilled, I’m sure. However, I think I can stand with Stephen to say that I wish to write what I understand of the world, not what publishers wish me to write about the latest trends, fads and such.

No funeral is planned for me, so I don’t have to concern myself with the size, shape, color, and expense of my casket when I’m finally gone. While I’m here, though, whether I ever make a living from writing or not, I plan to challenge the writing world and those in it. I plan to ask my questions, wonder about the use of some things, the change in others, and the people who share this occupation with me.

That is my purpose for now; to challenge, to question, to wonder. Have you come to any conclusions as to your own purpose for writing? Do you even want to know? Does the answer have any importance to you at all? Think about it.

Have a fantastic and productive week, readers. Monday’s interview will be with David Macinnis Gill, children’s writer, speaker, instructor. I hope you’ll all stop by to find out what David has on his mind. Around here, one never knows for sure who’s going to talk about what.

Until next week, I’ll say a bientot,


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