You Are What You Do (Part 2)Friday, March 21, 2014
No one told me to write.
Quite frankly, I don’t even know why I started. There was no teacher over me, telling me to pick up my pen and start journaling or start writing books. But somehow my love of reading prompted me to create stories of my own, stories about my world. So, I wrote about what I knew. I used to sit in my pink bedroom that I shared with my little sister and I would write retellings of fairytales and short mystery stories with characters that suspiciously resembled Kim Possible or Samantha the American Girl. I wrote from my experiences, things I saw in school, relationships I witnessed at home. Everything I witnessed became my canvas and I drew from what I saw and what I knew.
I am a writer because I have to write. I will always write. No one told me to do it. No one can ever make me stop. I don’t care if I never get published—I will still write. I don’t care if I’m the only person who ever likes my novels, because I like them. I wrote them and they are my dearest creations.
I once heard a speaker and professional writer say, “What’s that one thing in your life that you love to do more than anything? What do you find yourself doing with your free time? Whatever you’re drawn to do, maybe that’s what you were meant to do.”
In a way, I think that’s true.
I am not a writer because of chic coffee shops, antique bookstores or hipster glasses. (Though I do love all of those things.) It’s not about publication, New York Times bestsellers, Pulitzer prizes or book signings. It’s not about movie contracts, popularity or even being read.
I am a writer because it’s what I do and who I am. I can’t imagine a life without writing, without books and manuscripts, characters that come alive in my mind and that are vividly real to me. Writing is a natural extension of who I am. In fact, it’s a reflection of who I am: my thoughts and worldview are influenced by the way I write and the things I read.
I think this is true for anyone.
A painter paints because he loves the expression and communication of art. He may never be Monet, but he will always paint. A musician will play his music to the best of his ability, honing his craft. He probably won’t ever see a stage like John Mayer, but he may be just as artistically talented. A professor’s life may not be as riveting or exciting as played up in movies like Mona Lisa Smile, but she will teach because it is what she was made to do, imparting wisdom to others.
What were you made to do? What is your vocational calling? Even if that is not what you end up doing for your career, what is it in your life that you were made to do simply because it’s part of who you are?
Sometimes, we ignore what we were made to do because it’s too hard, or we weren’t successful with the first try. Other times, we try to convince ourselves that we want a certain life, not because of an actual love of the lifestyle, but because of a romanticized ideal that is really more of a fantasy. To me, this is like thinking every romance will turn out like The Notebook or every husband-to-be will look like Channing Tatum. Much like the fanciful dream of “true love” and “soul mates”, people tend to chase after a job they think will give them the results they want, not a job that will be truly rewarding and fulfilling based on their skill sets.
If you’re an actor, Broadway can be the goal but it shouldn’t be the reason. Never let desire for success overshadow your love for the craft itself.
If you’re a writer, write because you were made to. Write even if it doesn't sell.
Run because you love the thrill of the race, not because it’s the only way to get recognition with a medal at the end of the finish line. What if we all ran the races marked out before us as individuals who strive to create based upon their unique gifts and experiences?
It’s fine, even laudable, to dream. I say, aim as high as you can! Set your expectations high and not low. But make sure your goal doesn’t upstage your purpose.
I’m a writer. And I always will be. And I will continue to write and read, even if it’s just for me, because it’s what I was made to do.