Another rejection letter followed closely by another notification deadline passing without any “you’ve won” for me. I was so sure this one would have gotten some recognition. The story was one that when I was finished (rewriting for the twelfth time) made me think, “This is really good!” These recent submission results lead to a ‘no good writing news’ Thanksgiving for me.
As I plop down on the couch with my current read, I’m distracted by the question, “Why do I write?” When working full time, I looked forward to a time that I could be devoted to writing. I engaged in quite a bit of professional writing during my career: a number of co-authored research papers, science education magazine articles, and even a chapter in a book. However, writing creatively was what I wanted to do when I had adequate time to apply to it. In my mind, words would flow freely to create engaging stories that would enchant. It would be easy.
Oh, yeah, easy. Even as a hobby writer, I find that rarely do I feel something I’ve written is finished. The re-read/re-write cycle seems to go on endlessly. Since I choose to primarily write for children, the constant pressure to utilize appropriate vocabulary to challenge but not frustrate the target audience becomes very difficult. Additionally, I constantly struggle with editing, both for grammar and content. My mind works so much more quickly than my fingers. Regardless of the number of times I re-read, my mind insists on seeing that which it had intended rather than that which appears on the paper. Finally, I’m never quite satisfied with the story line. How can I make it more engaging, exciting, fun? The end project of all of this will be seen only by a few pairs of eyes belonging to my supportive peers in my writing group. So, why do I write for a hobby? Other hobbies require an equivalent amount of “work.” I knit. Figuring out patterns or developing patterns of my own challenges me. The craft requires skill and a significant devotion of time. At least when I finish with those projects I have something that I give away or wear. The artifact will be seen and valued, unlike my writings that languish in stored files on my computer. So, again, why do I write?
I leave my musings to look at the book I’ve chosen to take solace with, I am Malala. This is the story of the young girl who has come to represent the plight of young women who are denied an education. The answer to my query begins to unfold. My love of language – reading and writing – was nurtured as a young student. Through the tedious diagramming sentences to the excitement of sharing weekly writing assignments of essays and stories, a love of language grew. The way words could be manipulated to evoke feelings from sorrow to glee was a wonderment. The excitement of explorations of worlds I would never encounter became accessible to me through the words of others. I wasn’t denied an education that allows me to read and write; I was immersed in one. Why I write becomes clear.
I don’t need to be published or win a contest in order to feel fulfilled from writing. I write because I want to…and because I can. Happy Thanksgiving.