Friday Speak Out!: Why to be a Writer, Guest Post by Amy O'Neil

Friday, April 09, 2010
‘Why’ to be a Writer

by Amy O'Neil

Look on the internet and you will find a million different sites talking about ‘how to draw’, but how many of them discuss the all important question of why to draw? The same goes for writing.

I found myself asking this question today, right before I was about to embark on a commission for four large drawings.

I found a few vague answers, such as “We draw to express our creativity and expose it to the world”.

But today these answers didn't really satisfy. What is your creativity, why do you want to expose it, and why does the world need to be exposed to it? What does it ultimately achieve?

Is this just a stock phrase that merely sounds like it could be answering the question, or is it the truth of why to draw?

In our present times we have access to people’s talents, skills, stories and creations in the billions over the internet. We are literally swamped with exceptional and puzzling works of the mind, and not always in a good way. Can your work really contribute anything meaningful? Is the reason to create really ‘to add something to the world’? Or is it to feel like your existence is necessary?

It's a hard pill to swallow when you consider that the world would be okay if you weren't here, that literature would still be great and that art would continue to shock and delight. Films would still be moving and extraordinary, food would still be delicious, music would still sound wonderful, the earth would still spin.

So is it important that you draw, or write?

For me, today, the truth was no.

Is it essential for our already overwhelming culture?
Chances are slim.

So why do it? It's the same question as why bother existing. We exist because we exist. Existence is not necessary but it's a gift.

To be able to be here and taste delicious food, and read wonderful books, and watch breathtaking films and have complicated relationships is a one-hundred percent bonus.

Why draw or write? It is part of the gift. You do it because you can, because you're here and you have thoughts and opinions and were born into this tiny slither of time and place that nobody else was. And for some reason you fell into it; it happened, like when a flash of colour catches your eye.

So when you sit down to do that very important piece of writing today, or that ‘essential’ work of art, remember why you’re doing it. I mean, why you're really doing it.

Perhaps it’s because when you were a child you had an idea, and you decided to put it on paper because it seemed fun and natural, not because you were driven by adult fantasies of self-importance.

It is a gift. All you need to do is relish it.

Photograph courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt.

* * *

Amy O'Neil has a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design, which she completed in 2007. Since then she has been taking private commissions for drawings from photographs, but has found her interests have turned more towards short fiction writing. Her stories have been placed in several small competitions, as well as being recently short-listed for the Fish Short Story Prize. You can contact her at amygraceATgooglemailDOTcom.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Unknown said...

Thanks for the perspective, Amy!

Carrie Snider said...

I loved that. I do believe it is a gift, and I feel it every time I sit down to write or create something.

Hannah said...

Writing is a gift to me. Great post!

Free Your Creative Mind! said...

Thanks for a great article Amy! It is important to remember that the act of creating is important in and of itself. Thanks for the reminder!


Life As I Know It said...

Great post. I think artists create because they have to. It's part of who they are and the need to create is an ingrained, overwhelming urge sometimes. And in some of those magical creative moments, when we can feel the muse in us, it becomes a beautiful gift.

Unknown said...

I agree it is a gift for which I am grateful!
Thank you for your perspective!

Betsy said...

Thanks for all your comments everyone! Yes, it's something I have to remind myself every now and again. It's so easy to get bogged down with anything -even the things we are meant to enjoy!
Happy writing everyone x

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