A couple of weeks ago, I wrote on The Ten Best Things About Being a Full-Time Writer, and many many people added their own things, most of which focused on the actual results of writing. I thought that was a splendid idea, so here are the ten best things that writing gives me.
10. A sense of purpose. Each morning I wake up with the knowledge that I have a day full of not only great writing but also a clear, important intention for my day.
9. A focus. I am one of those people who just likes to know everything. (Some of you may say this is nosiness; you would not be wrong, but I prefer to call it insatiable curiosity.) This curiosity is a blessing that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but it also means that I can lose focus very quickly. Writing gives me focus to my curiosity.
8. Stress relief. As I said yesterday, stress makes writing so much harder, but writing is also the best way for me to relieve my stress.
7. Topics for conversation. Okay, given, not everyone in the world wants to discuss chattel slavery in the U.S., but many people do. Many gracious people ask me about my book with genuine interest, and so we can get to talk about it.
6. Knowledge. In research, I learn a lot, of course, but writing also teaches me about myself. I often don’t know why something bothers or excites me until I write about it.
5. Opportunity. In the past year, I have been so fortunate to meet scores of amazing people, all because of this book project. I have met “independent researchers” and Pulitzer Prize winners. I have met young girls who want to understand their ancestors’ experience and older men who remember the stories their grandmothers told them about the times of slavery. It’s amazing.
4. Contentment. I have done a lot of great work in my life – teaching, research, book selling, fundraising – and I have been very blessed to never have to work a job I loathed. But in all of those jobs, I still felt a little part of me was not contented. Now, in this life where I write mostly, teach some, research some, fundraise some, I find myself very content. It feels great.
3. Hope. There’s something about the act of daily creation that renews my hope in the world and myself each day. If we can get up, build something new, and know we can try again tomorrow – it’s hard to despair.
2. Endless Possibilities. There is no end to this life (which would be a nightmare if I hated it). I might finish a project, (Goodness, I hope I finish this project.) but my life as a writer doesn’t have to end. I don’t have to retire because of company policy, or quit because my body doesn’t suit the work anymore. I won’t get bored because I can always try something new. It’s infinite in its paths.
1. Peace. More than anything in the world, writing gives me peace. I sincerely believe this is because I am doing what I was made to do. Nothing fills me up or settles me down . . . nothing opens me up or grounds me like writing. Even in the midst of pain and frenzy, even as friendships evolve and loved ones die, writing continues to give me deep peace . . . Because it is all gift, a gift for me from the One who knows and loves me best. The gift to be myself.
What does writing give you?