Why I Write

Life, Musings, Work, Writing

My friends, writing is hard. Hard to keep up with, hard to do well, hard to show to other people for criticism. It’s like But it’s what I want to build my career around. I might be a little crazy but I can’t help it — I love good writing. Why do I pursue something that’s so difficult and uncertain? Why didn’t I just get an engineering degree so I could earn the big bucks and not worry about job security? (Well, partly because I’m sure that engineering is also really hard, and I suck at math.)

Optima

What I wish I wrote with, instead of crappy rollerball pens. Via Flickr user John Morgan.

But there’s more to it than my poor math skills. This week I read a post by Penelope Trunk about whether we should pursue happiness or meaning in our lives. The post neatly outlines her argument with a simple but compelling story. After reading it, it made me think of Joseph Campbell’s exhortation to “follow your bliss,” another misunderstood philosophy. Following you bliss can sound like “follow pleasure” but that’s not it at all. Campbell meant that we should find our meaning and hold on to it. Finding meaning, following your passion, can be really hard and uncomfortable. Pursuing meaning sometimes invites stress and conflict into your life, as Penelope Trunk points out, but it doesn’t have to be negative. If you feel part of something larger than yourself, that can be its own reward. Problem solving can be its own reward. Making a living out of what you are most passionate about can be its own reward, even if doesn’t necessarily win you approval or financial stability. (Although I must admit, I do aim for financial stability.)

So, I guess that’s why I write. Writing has been my bliss ever since I was nine years old. I don’t know what that will always look like or what the future will hold, but I’m need to be reminded that happiness comes from meaningful work and relationships.

Today I’m grateful for: early morning meditation practice, and my friend who led it. I’m going to try and start my days out better.

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