The importance of writing (to the writer) is a frequent subject of discussion among authors. I have had interviews that asked some variation of the question, “What would you do if you couldn’t write?” I’ve seen authors go so far as to say they would just simply die if they couldn’t write. Many authors seem to regard writing as a calling to some high work. It defines them. It is who they are.
For me, saying I am a writer merely describes something I do—not who I am. I write mere popular fiction. I don’t have any literary pretensions. I do not consider myself an artist. If I could not write, I’d do something else and never lose any sleep over it.
To me, writing is merely one way to express thoughts or emotions. One might find catharsis in that act, or it may help process some feelings or help order one’s thoughts. Fine then—jot your thoughts and feelings and amusing anecdotes and wildly imaginative stories down in your journal and never share them with anyone. You have written. Does that make you a writer? I think not.
I believe that people who speak mean to be heard and that people who write mean to be read. Look at the way authors exult over holding in their very own hands a copy of their book. Look at how authors wring their hands in anticipation of reviews of their work. Look too at how we gather to commiserate, congratulate, advise and admonish each other. To say all of that is nothing, that they would write regardless of those considerations, write even if no one ever read a word of their brilliance, write with the very last drop of their blood—well, that’s just a bunch of crap as far as I’m concerned.
Can you call yourself a healer if you have never healed anyone? Can you call yourself a teacher if no one has learned from you? Of course you can—this ain’t Russia. Still, saying something does not make it true.
I do believe there are people who feel driven to write, who enjoy it, whose fertile imaginations will not leave them alone until expressed in so many pixels on a computer screen. Once that is done though, they must show it to someone—a spouse, a friend, a publisher, other authors—SOMEONE. This story that drove them was so important, created such a force within their very souls that it cried out to be unleashed; and not merely upon the computer screen but upon other humans. It has to be shared. The writer has to know if it touches, frightens, warms, comforts, intrigues others as it did him or her. If they do not do that, I do not understand how they can call themselves writers.
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps there is a calling and I just do not have it. Perhaps I am a bricklayer in a roomful of architects. But I will tell you one thing: I do care if someone reads this.