Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happiness and Writing

My PEN America journal came in the mail the other day, and this morning I finally got a chance to look through it. PEN is an organization that defends free expression of the written word throughout the world, and reading the journal is depressing for two reasons: 1) the greatness of the writing puts in perspective the meagerness of my own, and 2) the oppression many of the writers have endured makes my life seem frivolous.

I’ll admit I have a bit of talent, but will my work ever foment protests and demonstrations? Not likely. Will my work transcend my death? Probably not. Should I stop writing? After reading the PEN journal, this is always a viable question.

So I close the PEN journal and open another one of my favorite books about being a writer, On Writing by Stephen King. My finger lands on this paragraph:

“Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.”

Good old Stephen King makes me realize that I am not writing so that my words can transcend my death or incite riots, I am writing because it makes me happy. And hopefully, that’s enough.

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