The first half of 2014 has been a marathon of change and, amidst the stampeding chaos, I abandoned my habit of daily reading like an empty, crumpled water cup thrown in the gutter. As penance for my literary littering, I gave up television for the month of July, with the goal of rekindling my reading habit, which severely withered in the first half of 2014.
I finished ten books in the last two months despite a schedule packed like San Diego Comic Con. As with many who write, the more I consume, the more I want to soak blank pages with my own ink, which was the real goal behind my television ban. The main challenge I face now is one of motivation. As both actor and director of my textual saga, I must address, or readdress, the question: Why do I write?
Short answer: recognition and self-realization.
While I have not always been admired for my athletic prowess, Prince Charming good looks, or charismatic personality, recognition of my mental faculties has always been a source of pride and sense of personal self-worth, the embers with which I survive the cold and cruel elements of human experience. I’m no nobel laureate, and claiming any level of intelligence is certainly hubristic and egotistical in nature, but few compliments tickle my ego like those rooted in intellectual admiration. It’s not humble, but it’s honest, just as the process of writing – at least good writing – is honest. Content can be arbitrary, but the words one writes are an honest expression of his or her own thought process.
Ego aside, I write in pursuit of self-realization. As I’ve quoted in a previous post, Salman Rushdie has said that the act of writing transforms you into the best version of yourself:
…when you write you in a way write out of what you think of as your best self, the part of you that is lacking in foibles and weaknesses and egotism and vanities and so on. You’re just trying to really say something as truthful as you can out of the best that you have in you.
And so somehow the physical act of doing it is the only way you have of having access to that self. I mean when you’re not physically writing you don’t have the key to that door, but when you get into—and certainly speaking for me—when I get into a state of properly concentrated attention then I do think of that as my best self… And I wish I had access to it the rest of time, but at least I can find my way to it through that.
Writing is difficult. It’s the hardest thing I know how to do – translating the torrent of thoughts in one’s mind into concise, illustrative, relatable text, whose nuanced meaning can be understood (let alone liked) by complete strangers. It’s tough. And like any creative endeavor, the creator exposes a raw part of himself to open critique.
Like forging reinforced steel, the difficulty of writing is intrinsic to its value. Thoughts begin as an ingot of bloody text, rough and unrefined, exhumed from the recesses of one’s collective experience. Fixing them upon an anvil of parchment, a writer hammers out the dross with his pen, sharpening prose with the fine point of its nib. When the text cools, the edits begin anew, repeating the process until a finished blade of thought gleams with the sweat of the author’s brow. Upon completion, the next project begins, lest the author lose momentum and cool the bellows of creativity.
So, why do I write? What’s my intention?
I write to be the best version of myself – the version hidden beneath a shy exterior that I want others to see,
someone with whom they can relate. I write to connect with people, find solace in shared experiences, and save others from the pain of past mistakes.
I write because it allows me to be the person I want to be, which is the best way I know to better the world around me.