Writers are artists. I’m totally biased, but I believe that writing is the most relevant and lasting form of art. Paint fades, clay breaks, paper decomposes, stone is worn down over time. And while a physical book or magazine might not last long, the story is forever. We’re still telling legends told from far before the birth of Christ. In fact, some might say we’re telling the same stories, just with new names and settings. Betrayal, war, heroes, monsters. And of course, the never-ending stories of love. Love never gets old.
Writing, and all the arts, are crucial to our existence. With storytelling, we can do so much. We can capture a moment in time and history that is completely unique. We can help people going through a difficult time. We can share our lives with thousands of people. We can create whole new worlds, and tell honest truths within them. We can live so many more lives beyond our own. We can use our words to inspire others, to help them see the world in a new way they hadn’t before. At very worst, we can write something clever to distract someone on a shitty day, or while they’re in a waiting room.
I assume that you agree with me about the importance of writing. Even if you’re not a writer yourself, I assume that you’re here because you love a good story. And so, given the weight of writing, all writers must eventually ask themselves a question. It might not be so direct, and you might not even realize that the question is being put to you until you’ve already answered it. But sooner or later, one time or a hundred times, you will have to answer it.
How far will you go for your art?
Will you devote your life to writing, like Natalie Goldberg did? Will you remain single and poor, hopping from house to house in a wild, nomadic, bohemian life that’s never certain and always new?
Will you commit yourself to the craft seriously, spending time not only reading and writing but researching?
Will you give up other habits to make the time to write?
Will you give up unhealthy habits so that your mind doesn’t fail you?
Will you live frugally so that you don’t have to work as much and can devote more time to writing?
Will you spend time everyday writing?
These questions can’t be answered by anyone else but you. Because only you know what’s worth it to sacrifice in the name of your art. You know what you’re capable of, and what is really important to you, even if you’ve gotten really good over time at lying to yourself about it. But it’s important to remember this.
If you talk to the people around you, I’m sure that you’ve got more than a few friends who want to be writers. They want to write, but they don’t get anything on the page. Do you know why? Because they don’t want to sacrifice anything for writing. They want to write, but they don’t need to. So, they won’t.
There’s another side to this. There always is. There are people, there have always been people who sacrifice too much for their art. We know their names because they’re usually spattered on the front page. Sometimes their brains are also splattered all over the walls.
Don’t sacrifice your health for your art. I’m sure that’s something of a theme on this site, but that’s because it’s a good piece of advice. Don’t work yourself to death. Don’t let your art drive you to drink or do drugs.
Don’t sacrifice your loved ones for your writing. Writing will never be more important than your kids or your partner. Don’t work through dinner or bring your writing on vacation with you. Especially if you have kids. They’re only going to be little for a small amount of time. Enjoy it.
So, what do you think? Do you have things in your life that you can sacrifice for your writing? What is more important than your writing, and should be kept? Let us know in the comments below.
Seven pieces of short and flash fiction, showcasing the days of seven very different people. You will find a busy librarian, a lonely man with a guitar and a woman who finds a dream crashing in her brain.