Reading Sandor’s post reminded me of people’s responses when I tell them that I’m a writing major; granted, I’m from Emerson, which is a smaller, more concentrated school (Math? Science? What are those?), but I still find that I’m always quick to defend my major, particularly when speaking to people outside my school. Well maybe “defend” is the wrong word, since I usually follow up my admission by saying “Yep, writing. Lucrative, I know. I fully expect to be living above my older sister’s garage for most of my life, or at least ’til she passes away and I can move into the main house.”
However, perhaps I shouldn’t be so self-conscious and deprecating of my chosen path, especially when it maybe wasn’t much of a choice. Just as my sister was always destined to become a nurse (which she’s incredible at), I think I was always going to be a writer. It could have come from growing up across from a library, visiting there every day, and eventually working there for two years in high school. It could have come from my mother reading aloud to my sister and I nearly every day when we were children. I definitely had the childhood for a writer, but then again, so did my sister. There was something different, then, that drove me to pick up a pen throughout my life every time I was upset or ecstatic or bored, and eventually drove me to major in writing.
A lot of my writing teachers talk about feeling the need to write, the burning for it; how they write because they must to survive. And I get worried because I’m not always sure I feel that. I get paranoid that maybe I’m just writing because my mom’s always told I’m good at it. Maybe I was really meant to be a dancer, or a marine biologist, like I wanted when I was 9. Or a unicorn, like I wanted when I was 5.
However, I don’t always feel most of my primal urges. I don’t always want to eat, or sleep- okay, maybe those are bad examples for a college student. But as many times as I feel my well of creativity as dried up, there have also been times where the only way I was going to stop typing was if my fingers fell off, because I just had too much to say. Inspiration may wax and wane, but I believe the heart of a writer is always true, whether or not they know it, and whether or not a difficult industry may discourage them.
Just as Sandor said, we write to communicate and to communicate well, and we also write because we have to share our common human experiences. That’s why, when one of my sister’s dearest patients passed away, she was compelled to write an essay about it. For my sister and I, as well as millions of others, there is a therapy in writing that can be found in few other places. I hope you keep this in mind when you write creatively; that while it’s good to stay mindful of your audience, you’re also writing for you. Let what other people think influence your third or fourth draft, but let that first one be yours. After all, that’s what editors are for!
From Cambridge Editors,
Katie (the one the right)