During dinner one evening, my friend and I talked about family, what’s happening in the world and our backyard, but ultimately the discussion turned to writing. Our usual chat over sushi.
We each had stories that we were working on, so we brainstormed ideas, ironed out character bumps, filled in plot holes.
But that night, the talk turned deeper, to the basics of why we sit in front of the computer and produce thoughts, characters, words, stories, essays and poems. The question was what do we want to get out of writing.
It was a damn good question.
My friend said that while having her work published would be great, she strived for perfection. To make each word and sentence count, to make each meaningful and to make the story go forward. That was what was keeping her writing.
“And you’re writing for the money,” she said.
“No,” I answered. I wrote so that I could get to a place where I would have the freedom to write full-time.
I think we both said aloud something we had probably been thinking for a long time — What we wanted to get out of the writing.
That is a good question for all to ask.
Do we want recognition? Or to see our name in print? Do we want the joy of expressing those thoughts and feelings that seem out of place if we speak them?
I have friends who are freelance writers who must write to pay bills, while others want to tell the stories within them as only they can and want satisfaction from that process.
Others may want an outlet for creativity, as music and painting is for others.
My friend reminded me of what Joanne Pence, a best-selling author, said at the workshop sponsored by The Other Bunch in April. Joanne said that writing and publishing are two separate things.
That makes total sense because the discussion was not what we wanted out of publishing, but what we wanted out of writing. That indeed makes them two different things with two different directions and sometimes, the twain will never meet.
What do we want out of writing?
Our answers may change over time, or not. But there is no wrong answer.
There is just the writing.
– Patricia Marcantonio