Word count: 342 Reading time: 2-3 mins.
When our last beagle died two years ago she was the last of many animals with whom Alan and I have shared our lives. It was only when she was gone that we realized how much time and effort we had poured into our pets over the years. The joy our adopted friends gave us could never be explained to people who weren’t animal junkies like us.
Isn’t that how it should be with all things we love, including – maybe especially – writing? We’re meant to throw ourselves into the commitment without measuring the cost in time or dollars. Melissa Scott said, “Even at the worst of times, when nothing goes right, when the prose is clumsy and the ideas feel stale, at least we're doing something that we genuinely love. There's no other reason to work this hard, except that love.”
Like any obsession, this cuts both ways. Writing isn’t glamorous. It’s a path to fame and fortune for very, very few people. It involves long hours of isolation followed by nail-biting moments waiting for the critiques.
Wait a minute – why am I doing this again? Ah yes, the sheer love of it. Just like I forced myself out of bed for pre-dawn dog walks on cold winter mornings, only to have the pack ignore me until dinner time, I frequently sacrifice long hours to writing and produce nothing more than leaden scenes that have to be scrapped. At such times I remind myself that today’s effort is part of a journey.
We met the needs of our animals and they rewarded us with sweet dispositions and good health. By meeting the demands of writing I hope to produce a story well told, one full sound and fury, one that is highly publishable.
So tomorrow I’ll brave the forecast snow and freezing rain and go downtown to a seminar at the Vancouver School of Writing. People who choose to lie in bed and watch the bleak weather pass by won’t understand. How do you explain love?