Reasons to keep writing
A few days ago Joanne Harris tweeted about #TenReasonsToKeepWriting. Joanne's tweets are a passionate manifesto for the importance of not only the arts in general, but also for the importance of our individual voices and stories.
Keep writing "because the very act of creation... However small, helps to replenish a world overwhelmed by acts of destruction, hate, and greed" she says. I've always been a hopepunk writer, writing to show people acting to conserve the natural world and its creatures. Knowing that someday my work may make the world better is certainly a reason I keep writing. "Art makes us believe in something better" she says. My writing certainly does that for me.
Keep writing "because art crosses boundaries of race, culture, and belief," she says. Science fiction has always been able to do this; to invent new worlds, civilisations, and belief systems in order to transcend current boundaries. And often to examine contemporary issues from an outsider's perspective. And sometimes, like with The Handmaid's Tale, that writing can be scarily prescient.
But it's the personal reasons Joanne gives for continuing to write which resonate most deeply. "Because you have no idea who you will reach through the power of your words", she says. Books have always been subversive, governments have regularly banned stories that questioned or challenged their ideologies. Often these banned books long outlive the regimes that banned them.
"Because no act of creation is ever wasted,"Joanne says. "Even if it is never shared with anyone else." The process of writing a piece can be a healing in itself, a way for us to face down our personal demons, and look at what we're afraid of full in the face.
"Because the desire to create is an instinct which, when suppressed, leads to emotional shutdown," she says. The most effective creating I do when angry or worried is to write in my journal. The answers appearing there come from way beyond my conscious mind. They ground me and calm me, and set me off back to the world in a hopeful mindset again.
"Because your stories are worth telling," Joanne says. I have long thought that about mine, that the environment, its creatures, and women will benefit from my words. Yes, there are many reasons to keep writing even when nobody wants to read your work.