I have been wondering recently why it is I write. Why I can’t choose an alternative profession, why I couldn’t have been called to do something that I could train for, then get a job in and get paid well for, all the while still helping people and making a difference.
I believe that writing, for the natural writer, is not a career choice. It’s not even a choice at all. It is a necessity, something they must do, or else what is the point to life?
As well as that, for me, writing is a way to chase away the demons of mortality. I write because my fear of death is so strong, that I need to create something that will live on past my lifetime. I write about life after death because I need to believe that it is real. I need to believe that my soul will continue even when my body is still. And when I have departed for that other realm, that alternate dimension, there will be something tangible left behind that will declare that I was here. That I lived. And that I had something to say to the world.
Writing for me is not about the money, or fame (which is a good thing, as many writers never see either) but about quelling my fears and the fears of my readers too. I write to express the worst-case scenario in my head. I write to experience things through my characters that I am curious about, but have no desire to experience in real life. I write to get my darkest fears out of my system. I write to experience the different parts of myself, in a way that’s safe. I have always seen writing as my personal form of therapy. Years ago I would not have felt comfortable spilling my thoughts and secrets to a complete stranger whilst laying on a hard couch, but I would eagerly spill my thoughts onto the diary page in an inky scrawl, that no one but myself could decipher later on. My diary understood me better than any human being on this planet. And best of all, my diary never tried to give me any advice.
So why is it that I have been so stuck recently? I have been finding it so difficult to commit words to the digital page, that I find myself procrastinating on my writing to the point of craziness (is watching that youtube video really more important than finishing my novel? No, I think not). Have I stopped writing because I no longer fear my mortality, and therefore can find an easier way to make a living? No, that’s not it. Is it because I have simply run out of things to say?
Well, anyone who knows me even a little bit will know that it’s definitely not that either.
I’m beginning to think that perhaps it is because I have been a little too happy recently. To be a writer means to be tortured, to feel things deeply, to hurt, to experience more ups and downs than a roller-coaster enthusiast, all in the name of gathering experiences and feelings so we can write about them. In the past few years, while writing my previous books, I have experienced the highest highs and lows so low, that it seemed impossible to recover from them. And all of those things are what makes my writing interesting. (I hope).
But recently, I have been on very even ground. Life has been tootling along quite nicely, quite easily, and very evenly. Which, considering my slightly weak stomach, is preferable to the steep slopes I have hurtled down in the last couple of years. But unfortunately, this wonderful, drama-free existence does not inspire me to write.
Which brings me to the conclusion that I must choose. Between being happy, or being a writer. Are those two things really mutually exclusive? Is it possible to write about the pain of heartbreak while having a whole and healthy heart?
I’d like to think so. Because quite honestly, this is not a choice I am willing to make.
In fact, I am going to choose, right now, to be happy, and to continue my writing. To have faith that this feeling of being stuck will not last, and that the words will flow again. And that I will publish my next book in September.
If you write, and you experience these moments of being stuck, please comment on how you get through them.
You can have both, Michelle. I’ve been happy for years. Nevertheless, the darkness of my past will always be a part of me and something to draw from, along with the darkness of the world as it is now. Writing is my therapy, my way of meditating and finding peace within the fury.
Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement, Eleni. Xx