I recently wrote a post, Practical Art, featuring my husband’s custom furniture. I admitted to being jealous that he has something beautiful and useful to show for his creative efforts, while what I gain from my writing is mostly intangible. The benefits of writing are personal, but I can’t discount that they do spill over into my relationships. And in response to that post, I received positive feedback about how important it is to follow our passions and share them with the world.
I do love seeing my imagination come to life on the page, but sometimes I feel guilty about the time I spend at the keyboard. I feel like I should be doing something that will benefit society in a more substantial way. I’ve learned to beware of the word “should,” though. It’s a red flag that I have a deep-seated idea hidden below the surface of my thoughts. When I went in search of that idea, I found the belief that I ought to spend my time doing good deeds and helping those less fortunate than I am. I feel that I should be trying to save the world.
I’m pretty sure that none of us can do that. We can, however, find ways to use our talents and skills to make life better for the people in our sphere of influence. There are people with boundless enthusiasm and magnetic personalities who draw others to join in their causes. They’re community organizers, Peace Corps volunteers, tireless crusaders for the helpless. I am not one of those people, but I do try to be useful. I volunteer for Young Audiences of San Diego, a non-profit organization that brings arts experiences to children and families all over San Diego County.
When I was a teacher, I felt that my job itself was a contribution, a service to the community with a paycheck attached. Now I want to write; I need to write. Is the artistic merit of a creative endeavor enough to justify spending so much time doing it? Or can I find a deeper feeling of purpose and usefulness as I work on my novel?
I have to believe that writing, whether my work is published or not, does matter.
- The act of writing is inquisitive in nature. Writers ask questions and seek answers. The pursuit of knowledge and the ability to share what we’ve discovered is worthwhile.
- We explore how other people experience life when we examine our characters’ habits and motives. Understanding one another can only improve our interactions with both friends and strangers.
If I am fortunate enough to publish my novel, I hope it will entertain and even enlighten. So many of the books I have read have opened my heart and informed my beliefs. Maybe one day my novel might do that for someone else.
Not long after I wrote Practical Art, I read Five Reasons Why Your Writing Matters by Ali Hale of Aliventures. The certitude of her piece is encouraging. Several of her reasons why writing matters are similar to mine, so perhaps they are universal truths about the value of both the written word and the act of writing.