So over the past two days, as I wrote blog posts that comparatively few people (yet) will read, I discovered that after writing them, I felt happy. Now there’s the happiness of “just having written,” which DailyKos attributed to Robert Hass: “It’s hell writing, but it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is just having written.”
The happiness I’ve felt writing this week turns out to be more than “just having written.” It is also more than just the satisfaction of forming ideas and communicating them. That pleasure is certainly a chief reward of writing, but this happiness, I found, went deeper. It was a feeling not just that I had said something, but that I had said something that was mine to say. It was a feeling of being aligned with my purpose.
Now I don’t know exactly what my purpose is. I have hints of it; you no doubt have hints (or more) of yours. I learn more about my purpose whenever I do something that results in that sense of deep pleasure. Those are the clues that tell me what direction to go to find happiness.
Especially in tough economic times, it’s tempting to write only what the market will bear. Yes, we writers have to pay the bills, and yes, the writing landscape is shifting enormously before our eyes. But we do ourselves and our readers a disservice if we don’t write what’s on our minds. We cheat ourselves and others if we don’t take some time from our money-earning pursuits to also write from our hearts, whether or not it will at this moment pay the bills. Sometimes we get lucky, like a friend of mine who’s cruising in Antarctica at the moment with three magazine-writing assignments. Paying the bills can go along with writing our hearts out.
But even when it doesn’t, let’s be true to our own sense of purpose. Whether or not thousands of people are reading your blog, whether or not you have an agent for your novel, whether or not your contract supports it, write what you mean. Write what is yours to write. Write your heart out.