Is Your Writing As Important As You Think?

'Be someone for somebody' - J Shroeder 

Since May, my father has been fighting for his life. Part of me wanted to abandon social networks. Part of me wanted to abandon friends. Part of me wanted to abandon writing. But I didn't.


Because others hadn't. I had watched one friend write through the death of her mother, and another through the death of their father. I had watched friends write through illnesses and catastrophes. They didn't go away because things got tough. They kept writing, because it was important.

How Important Is Your Writing?

Very. It turns out that it's important for reasons that are not immediately clear. The part of us as writers that wants to throw in the towel when 'bigger' stuff happens, is the part of us that judges our own work. We forget that others are ALREADY invested in it, whether we've sold it or not.

When I was struggling to pay for heat last year, one thing kept me writing. Obviously, the people who said they wanted to buy my books were a huge motivator but even more so were the aspiring writers who wrote to me saying:
PLEASE keep writing. I watch what you go through and it gives me faith that I can succeed. If you give up, I will give up.
I got loads of emails like that. Even more surprisingly, I got loads of emails like this:
PLEASE keep writing. I am [poor/losing a family member/suffering from a chronic illness, etc, etc] and I don't know how to go on. Watching you handling all this stuff gives me faith that I can too. If you give up, I will give up.
Now... obviously the responsibility for a person's happiness and choices lies with that person, and threatening writers with emotional blackmail is not a good thing, but the point is that you have no idea who you are touching, or how, or why. 

The idea of the hermit writer is fine if you are one. We are not. Even if you never leave your house physically, you do so in spirit and mind every time you connect to the web. Other people use you as a point of reference for their own lives. 

To put it another way... if you have been blogging, or on social networks, consistently for more than a few months, you are a landmark. You may be a little well in a village, or you may be the Statue of Liberty or Big Ben. It doesn't matter how big you are as a landmark. If you are a point of reference for someone, you will be missed in ways that have nothing to do with your own personal world if you disappear.

If other people are important to you, and you have become important to them through writing, then your writing is important. It's not as important as YOU think. It is as important as THEY think. With all its imperfections, grammatical tensions, and flaws, it is an expression of the human condition. Whatever life brings, and however insignificant you feel, keep sharing your writing. You never know who you are helping. 

In the spirit of sharing... after nearly half a year of operations, a coma, and all sorts of life-and-death drama, Dad came home yesterday. In an hour, I will see him, aneurysm-free for the first time in years. Before I went to see him, I had to write about it and share it with you. It was important.

Rachel Hoyt  – (27 October 2010 at 20:12)  

That is so great that your dad is aneurysm free!!! And, it's wonderful that you pointed out how important sharing these experiences can be. I've only had my rhyming poetry blog up for a little while, but I aim to consistently write things that make people smile. :o)

Rhyme Me a Smile

Tash  – (29 October 2010 at 00:40)  

What a testimony to the human spirit of endurance your article is! There is a woven thread of shared experience; when my own dear mother passed away in 2006, I found myself feeling like closing off, closing down, CLOSING. However, there were so many people I had made friends with on different websites; and I was able to assist a few in a big way; a
Wexford man who lost his son, an English lady whose marriage fell apart after she had a heart attack; a lovely lady from UK who suddenly and very sadly lost her mother unexpectedly.....
We are all in the boat of life together; floating down the river - running into rough weather and tough times....
And through the magic of communication; we bring life; we keep going, and we can console one another and assist with goodwill, and great camaraderie.
Thank you so much for sharing.
I hope whatever comes to you, you will always have an abundant circle of warmth and friendship!

Rebecca Woodhead  – (29 October 2010 at 18:46)  

What lovely comments. Thank you.

Tash. You put that so well. Thank you for sharing too.

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