The Writing Life
Sometimes I feel like I've been writing my whole life. And to a certain extent that's true. I wrote and illustrated my first story when I was six years old: a historical fiction roughly three sentences long about the origins of the moon.
When people ask me why I write, or how I got into writing, I never quite know what to say. The only answer I can think of is something the lines of: "I don't know, it's just something I've always done."
At times writing has been a way of processing my feelings or working out a problem. Some people meditate or go for long walks. I write. Putting pen to paper is how I make sense of the chaos of thoughts and feelings inside my head.
Then I got older and started studying the craft and art of storytelling. I quickly learned that writing (or any work of art for that matter) can't be that self-centred. Sure, I can still use writing to process and reflect upon my life in private when I'm journaling, but as I start to move more and more toward writing as a career, I have to distinguish carefully between private and public work.
Work for the public that I intend on publishing either here on my blog, as a feature article on another site, or even in my book, must be, first and foremost: For. The. Public.
A very wise professor of mine in theatre school once said something along the lines of:
"I don't care if the actor is crying. I care if the audience is crying."
I think that sums it up perfectly.
As I start putting more of my writing work out into the public, I'm trying to be more and more vigilant with myself. Is what I'm writing worth 5 or 10 or 50 minutes of someone's time? In the case of a book, will readers consider it $20 or $30 dollars well spent?
I hope so.
And perhaps more importantly, I have to ask myself: What will my work do for the public? Not: What will my work do for me?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these musings. I think that finding a balance between expressing yourself while still prioritizing the audience and giving them something of emotional, intellectual, or artistic value is a challenge for any creative person.
If you're a writer or artist, how do you figure it out?
Since this might have turned into a slightly more philosophical post than usual, I'm going to throw in a bit of fun here at the end to lighten the mood!
All the jewelry pictured in this post is by Ilymix. You can check out their shop here, where they've got everything from rings, necklaces, and bracelets to scarves and sunglasses! And all you wonderful readers of The Cardinal Press get 20% off at checkout with promo code: CardinalPress20.