It’s been a rough year, one with many books that didn’t get written. There were good reasons, like my mother almost dying, but now that my personal crisis is mostly in the past, all I can think about is all the writing goals that went unmet. Given the many blessings life has given me this year, this seems a very appropriate time to remind myself of why I chose to devote my life to writing.
1. Writing works because Readers are everything important
Readers are why I write. Before I had readers, all I had were stories I’d made up. Readers take my stories, find pleasure in them, and make them real. Readers are the reason that I come back to the writing no matter what else happens in my life. Sure I write to get the voices to quit talking in my head—LOL—but without someone to read about those characters I create from that craziness, what good is it to indulge my weirdness? Without readers, I’d learn to shut off the ideas and then the muse would leave for good and life as I know it would be over. Readers are the reason I’ve already started on the next novel and they will be the reason I move on to the one after that. I say it all the time and I’ll never stop saying it because it’s true. Readers are everything important to what I do.
2. Writing is not just my career—it’s my calling
I’ve done a lot of things to make a living, everything from scrubbing toilets to owning my own technology business. Nothing before publishing my stories felt as important to me. I moved from job to job only to make more money, but never thought to satisfy my soul in the work. Would I write for free if I couldn’t get paid for my stories? Yes, I likely would, but maybe only a book every year or two. Writing, at least the way I do it, is demanding and takes more time than other jobs I’ve done. I’m not a morning person and needing to finish a scene is the only reason I would ever willingly get up at 5 am. When I look back on my work, I see that all other jobs kept me from this one. They drained me of energy because I give 100% plus to whatever I choose to do. That’s just my nature. I’ve grateful to finally be able to give my 100% plus to the most important work I’ve ever done. I’m one of those lucky few who knows their truth. Writing books is what I’m meant to do.
3. Writing to make readers laugh
This is not a grand goal in the big scheme of all that’s wrong in the world, but from the very beginning, making readers laugh was something I badly wanted to do. I’m a self-taught comedy writer, but a very motivated one. Hearing I made a reader laugh is like winning the lottery. It’s been life-changing to hear it because I no longer wander through the world wondering if anything I do makes a difference to anyone or not. I know I make a difference every time you tell me I make you laugh. That’s the best award or reward I could ever get from anything. I don’t need to make a list to be happy. I don’t need the accolades of peers. I just need your notes about hiding out in bathroom stalls at work and reading one of my stories on your phone. I just need to hear my books are on your re-read list. When it comes to my writing, your joy is the glory I seek. To entertain you for a few hours is a high honor to me.
4. Writing lets me be a friend
I’m a recluse and a loner. I’m hard to get to know and don’t let friends into my life often. My friends—those persistent few, God bless them—know they have to push their way through the walls I erect to get to me. And I suck at being a friend back. I have to work very hard to reach out to people I know, but through my stories, I can even reach out to strangers. “Read this and feel better” is the message in most of my stories. Let me make you smile, laugh, and feel emotions that don’t leave you feeling empty. Cheesy? Maybe. But I intentionally write feel-good endings and happily ever after. I like to think my books are medicine for a reader’s heart and mind. I send them out to find the reader who needs them. I meditate on it and pray my stories reach who they need to reach.
5. Writing for a living is the best job I’ve ever had
Making a living as a “creative” person is a financially precarious way to live. As an author, your popularity rises and falls. Sales channels change their rules and suddenly you’re invisible in searches. And in my case, personal problems keep me from writing because I put my family above all else. After a while of juggling expenses and wondering how you’re going to keep going, every full-time writer no doubt starts to long for the days when he or she worked in the corporate world for a souless paycheck. So I don’t feel bad for the hundreds of times in the last couple of years where I scanned the job ads to see if I could find a day job again. However, I always get stopped by the same thoughts. I think about what I’m going to lose if I go back to work outside of writing. I think about all the books that won’t get written and all the readers who might give up on me if I fade from public view. I’m just not ready to let go of my dream of being a full-time working writer—a dream I keep hanging onto with both hands. So I remind myself that no matter how challenging life is now, I’ve seen harder times and worse circumstances. I tell myself that I will find a way to keep doing what I love.