Monday, March 25, 2013

Why I Choose to be a Writer

Writing can hold me back from living my life. It can hold me back from giving my all to my career. Declining offers from friends. Feeling miserable on Monday mornings because I didn’t write more than ten sentences over the weekend. Many days I resent my writing alter ego. I ask myself: why do I choose to be a writer?

This isn’t the conversation about why I chose to be a writer. That choice made in the past seems romantic and nostalgic from where I stand today. Rather, I’m thinking about the choice I’m making today, of why every day I continue to choose to be a writer. It isn’t a normal job. (Job seems a hopeful exaggeration.) It isn’t a conventional past time. (Going to the movies or reading are more relaxing.) It isn’t safe. Most times you are muttering at your computer screen or twisting your mouse pad into shreds.

Your parents worry. Your friends raise their eyebrows. Your cousins may even smirk. Friends from your undergraduate years wonder what you are doing with your life. Your classmates from grad school want to know how you’re going to use your degree. Then, why, why do I choose to be a writer?

I imagine how easy it would be to give it up. I’d have all this free time in the mornings. I wouldn’t have to read all these blogs and tweets during my lunch time. I could stop feeling guilty about my weekends. I could have a regular job, a regular social life and relaxing weekends. Just the way society intended.

 As soon as I convince myself of giving up my writing, instead of feeling relief, I feel a distinct sense of loss. I potter about doing laundry asking myself who I am. What do I do? How am I supposed to make sense of life? How can I cope with my crazy boss without making him a character or add a dash of funny in my life if I don’t caricature my neighbors. Life starts to look bleak. The colors are in shades of grey.

That’s when I know that I choose to be a writer because writing allows me to make sense of this crazy life and keeps me from snapping at the few friends that I still have. I choose to be a writer because it makes me, me.

It doesn’t matter when someone throws a jellyfish sting at you or tries to bring you down by creating doubt about who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are published or receive validation from other sources. If putting words on paper puts a spring in your step and a sparkle in your eyes, then you are a writer. Maybe you never had a choice in the first place!

Please share. Why do you choose to be a writer?   


  1. I've had this debate with myself many times, even after I attained the "coveted" contract. The truth of it is is that writing is hard work. While we are willing to work hard in order to get that bigger salary or those "perks", working hard with no promise of immediate reward sometimes feels insane by our society's standards. But our society's standards are not necessarily the healthiest. How many people are locked into jobs that give them a great salary, a title, all those perks - yet they are still miserable? Many of those people have come up to me with a wistful look in their eye and say, "How I wish I could write." They could, if they were willing to forgo some of those perks. And it just might mean taking the time you get your nails done every week to sit down and write. Or forgo an hour of sleep every night. Writing will demand some kind of sacrifice, but wouldn't giving up on your desire to write be an even bigger sacrifice? If we all lived by our own standards and not those inflicted by others onto us, we would develop into the people we are meant to be. I'd like to live in a world like that.