Thursday, February 24, 2011

3 Better Motivations For Writing

Just got back from the literary special olympics: a writers' conference. Despite my enthusiasm for the gimp games, I wouldn't wanna see those inspirational athletes fill the ranks of the traditional olympics excluding all others. Yet, this seems to occur with literature.

The authors' conference I attended (under the blue skies and church spires pictured here) was great. Still, the percentage of writers who appeared depressed, wounded, bitter or downright unstable was concerning. Escape from the world and direct eye-contact with humans seems to be a primary writing motivation.

Not so here. We consider hours of isolation to be more a cost of the artistic lifestyle than a benefit. We don't encourage writers who have lost their zest to find an inner muse. We urge them to find an outer hottie and kiss them the way they need to be kissed. Get a life before you scribble about life. In contrast to writing as revenge, we espouse authorship for constructive reasons.

1) Write to know the world. Like Henry David Thoreau, we wanna suck the marrow out of life not the joy. At worst, we have a lover's quarrel with the world like Robert Frost. We attack evils and injustice but without ignoring beauty and grandeur. Having lost faith in many things, our soul retains its wonder at nature, love and children.

2) Write to know the management. Wandering the world reveals that most people on this planet either believe in God, think they are God or spend a lot of money on therapy. Whether you prefer Goddess, Ganesh or Steve, it's the awe (not the naming) of God that's the beginning of wisdom. Being the center of your own universe is a burden few can bear without being crushed.

3) Write to know yourself. Humanity is a tragedy and a comedy, but we're all part of the play. Careful observation of others can teach us about ourselves. Intellectual analysis often produces theory that misses the obvious. If you're a psuedo-genius who can no longer laugh, cry or mate like a normal person, get in touch with reality before it's too late. Pull your head out of your ... um ... book and join the dance of life. Dancing with folks on the street will give you better material than sitting in the press box as the parade goes by. Don't worry what the geeks ... er, I mean published authors ... think of you. Show compassion for the mentally ill, but don't let them take all the literary awards.


  1. Spot on. Just because writing requires a lot of isolation does not mean we only need people who prefer to be alone to write. We need other perspectives too.

  2. The last place I'd go is where a whole lot of me's would be. No thanks, though thanks for the affirmation;-)
    Got your book and looking to be...(word taken already) razzle-dazzled!

  3. I'm alone all day long, locked away in my own little world. I thrive when the kids and husband get home and I return to reality.

    Love your reference to the conference as the literary special olympics!!!