This is the bottom of one bookshelf. All the notebooks on the bottom left are journals and poems and short stories. The folders to the right are stories from High School. And fairy tales. The next shelf contains more journals and novels I'm working on (slowly). I have a box of daytimers from long ago that I can't quite throw out because there are pages with notes and newspaper clippings of births and deaths and a romantic treasure hunt from my 3rd anniversary. Because I have been so busy lately, I haven't done as much journaling as I would like. As I flipped through the latest Conde Nast Traveler magazine (I read a lot), I came across this page...
Sorry it's sideways. I have no idea how to fix that.
This gentleman, who is an artist, kept 5 Moleskin notebooks with him as he traveled the Pacific Crest Trail, from California to Washington state. He took his time and painstakingly captured the essence of his travels. Isn't it beautiful? There is something...magical about taking the time to draw what you see, instead of taking a photo. I mean, how many times have you tried to capture a perfect sunset, and you look at the photo and it's not the same? Granted, we are not all artists. I mean, there is no way I could draw a campground like that. But it's the details, you know? He managed to tell his stories and experiences by drawing them.
Why do we write?
Is it because we have something to say? Something oh so important? Do we want to change the world with our words, touch people's hearts and their minds with our words and descriptions?
Is it because we have a very cool story spinning in our dreams and we need to get it on paper?
Is it because we think we could write better than Joe-Sho and make money at it?
Is it because we want to entertain with our witty words?
Is it because it's cathartic?
Is it because you are leaving a legacy? Something for your grandchildren to read in amazement and love at your life?
Is it because all of a sudden we slow down our busy lives and take the time to carefully construct sentences and dialogue that brings us back to a memory we had, an experience that changed us, a moment so beautiful or so tragic that we weep on our keyboard?
If I may be so bold as to say so, think long and hard about why you write.
Don't let money or publishing contracts or failure or success define you. That's the same as letting the world tell you who you are. No one can do that but GOD.
Writing is a purely creative gift that you need to embrace and cultivate and practice. The world can only tell you if you're marketable to certain people.
If you have a burning rush in your heart, why are you stopping it?
I apologize for the length of this post, but I love this poem below. While I don't agree with all the words in it, it has a burning passion in it that I'm sure you will understand.
so you want to be a writer?
if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it. if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it. if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it. if you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it. if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it. if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it. if you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it. if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently. if it never does roar out of you, do something else. if you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all, you’re not ready. don’t be like so many writers, don’t be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don’t be dull and boring and pretentious, don’t be consumed with self- love. the libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind. don’t add to that. don’t do it. unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it. when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you. there is no other way. and there never was.
Please keep writing. If only for yourself.
Jenn Kelly is a writer. And for now, that is enough. You can reach her at www.loveandoregano.com because right now she's writing about the farm-life.