Category Archives: Art

Why Writing Matters

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.

Why does writing matter to you?

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Practical Art

Bruce's media cabinet is inspired by his favorite furniture designers, Greene and Greene. The pottery is by Greg Verdon.

My husband makes beautiful furniture. He built his first piece when he was twelve and he’s never stopped pursuing his passion for design and craftsmanship.

By day, he’s an accountant and he works hard at a job he enjoys, but every weekend, he tries to spend an afternoon in his woodshop so he can indulge his creative side. Since his free time is limited, he doesn’t work fast, but he makes progress. His media cabinet took 300 hours to build, spread out over two and a half years. That’s a long time to spend on a project, but the result is splendid. And it’s useful.

I have to admit that sometimes I’m jealous.

When I finish a novel or a story, I have a file on a disk or a stack of paper. I can’t decorate my home with it or store things in it. Is it of any use if no one reads it? If I never publish it, was it worth my time?

Then again, I spend hours in dance class practicing steps that will never be performed on stage. I delight in each small improvement in my technique. Dancing better this week than I did last week may seem like a small reward, but it satisfies me and the pleasure of dance inspires me. I profit from the physical exercise as well as the creative stimulation.

The time I spend writing provides similar benefits. When I take a  class, I learn new ways to shape my words to better express the world of my imagination. The more I write, the more capable I feel. It becomes easier to solidify my thoughts on the page.  Even if I’m the only one who reads my work, my brain is stretched by the process of writing.

I’m happier and healthier when I’m dancing regularly and writing  daily. Those activities help me to be my best self; to be a better friend, daughter, sister and spouse. I do hope that something I’ve written will one day be published. Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing, improving my technique and filling my heart with the joy of words.

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Filed under Art, Creativity, Dance, Writing