December 12, 2012
Is Writing a Luxury?
I almost didn't ask the question. In fact, it took everything I had within my own mind to muster the courage to form the words, not to mention write them down...in an email...to a writer friend.
"I just have to ask this," I said. "What do you think: Is writing a luxury?"
The question came just hours into my return to the home front after a year of trying my hand at steady, reliable office work in the world beyond my doorstep.
Even though I wasn't sure I wanted to hear the answer, I knew this was the right time to ask. Insights were coming, as they often do in times of transition, fast and furiously, and my new path was waiting to be forged.
But what would that new path constitute? Would it involve writing? Or would I make better use of my time doing something less mentally taxing to earn a reliable paycheck?
Suddenly, all was on the table. Maybe writing is a luxury, thought I, and something I should just drop altogether. Have I been foolish to think somehow that this may be part of my life's calling?
My friend started her answer by distinguishing between the nonfiction writing she does to make a living, and the creative writing that, as she put it, is the work of her heart and soul.
"Because I'm not making a living with the creative writing, that feels like a luxury. Yet I know it is an integral part of who I am and who I continue to become," she continued. "It isn't a luxury for my heart and soul; it is a crucial factor in their health."
She then shared that she longs sometimes for the days she pictures in Old Europe, "where artists of all kinds had patrons to support them as they moved forward with their careers." Of course, she added, "those lucky artists might have been as few and far between as today's artists who sell enough to earn their rent payment."
In conclusion, she said she believes God gives us the gifts he wants us to use, though society isn't quick to recognize the value of those gifts. "So in a world where bills have to be paid, art does sometimes seem like a luxury, but a luxury I couldn't live without."
Aha! Her final words grabbed me, resonating deeply with what I also believe to be the truth of it: "...a luxury I couldn't live without."
And spoken from a true writer's heart.
I'm still turning this question over, wanting to have examined everything necessary before moving forward full steam. But I am certain of one thing: I couldn't find anything in my friend's words to contest. Which leads me to believe that, at the very least, I, too, have been molded and shaped by the written word to such an extent that it is like air to me to write.
Q4U: What are your thoughts? Is writing a luxury to you?