(I think the title of this post might get people feeling a little bitter. Just hold your horses, OK?)
Once upon a time, I was filling out college applications. (It wasn’t that long ago but it feels like it was back with the pterodactyls and velociraptors.) One of the most painful parts of this process was writing essays on why I picked my majors. I basically had to explain why I wanted to dance and why I wanted to write.
Up until this point in my life, these questions had never even entered my head. I wrote because I loved it. I was made for it. There was literally no other reason I wrote. I had no grand scheme to change the world or anything, and there was nothing particular I wanted to accomplish with my writing. I just wrote because I loved it.
I wrote because I loved it. I always believed that was enough.
Painfully, like all forty of my teeth were being pulled from their gums, I wrote some essays that were mostly hoity-toity gobbly gook that made it sound like I did what I did for some noble, intellectual reason.
It was garbage. It was less than garbage. In fact, it was a dumpster fire.
Well, since I quit college those things don’t really matter anymore. But ever since, this question has nagged me like a little gargoyle on my roof: “WHY do I write? What’s my goal?”
Countless blogs talk about the importance of discovering the why. They talk about rediscovering your why when you are in a slump. Twitter hashtag games ask why you write.
People have all these answers: change the world, bring hope, bring joy, etc. Because they love bringing stories to life and what not.
I’m over here like, “Cause – like – I want to write.”
I recently had a revelation: “I love writing,” is the only why anyone ever needs. The only why a writer needs is, “Because I love it.”
Because if you say you need a why to write, you’re saying that writing in and of itself has no value. That without your mission, your mantra, your whatever, your writing is meaningless.
But writing itself has value. We don’t need to put value on top of it.
And every great artist, writer, performer, does their trade for this reason: Because they love it.
Missions and goals come along after the fact. And they are transitory. Let’s say you want to write to bring awareness and representation about something, but let’s say in a few years, everyone is aware and there is a plethora of representation. Your work isn’t needed.
Do you stop writing? No, because that’s not why you started. That was just a part of your journey.
Writing itself is the why. It’s the mission. It’s the goal.
So if you are searching for the why, it’s not that far. All you have to do is ask yourself, “Do I love to write?”
No one needs a reason to make art. That’s like needing a reason to stare up at the stars.
So, you know what, just live your life and stop over complicating it with all these deep and existential questions. Just sit down and write. Stop all this, “I have to make my life meaningful,” stuff. YOU ARE A HUMAN PERSON AND THEREFOR YOUR LIFE HAS VALUE, EVEN IF YOU NEVER ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING.
There. This is my thesis. Now I’m going to get on my rooftop and shout it.