An essay by Radine, first published in THE WRITER’S JOURNEY JOURNAL from Wolfmont Press, 2009.
“Your writing should begin with motive, not process.”
Around twenty years ago newspaper editor Richard J. Cattani offered this advice, and the words continue to stir me. They lead straight to the question, “Why do I write?”
Up front I’ll exclude a common answer many non-writers (and even some writers) choose: “To be rich, or famous, or, best of all, both.” Those things might come (if rarely) but where’s the lasting joy in such material pleasures? I find them false motives.
Cattani also wrote this provocative and unfinished sentence: “If you don’t wake up writing . . . . “
How would each one of us who writes finish that sentence? Cattani didn’t. I don’t think he needed to.
Writers can wake up with a head full of words that demand sharing. (This “waking” might come at any time of day or night.) We sit at our computers with a vision of how to put our new-born sharing on the screen. And, at last, after writing and thinking and re-writing, we are ready to send the ideas we have loved and nurtured out to our fellow humans, hoping they may benefited, or at least entertained.
Ah, that, then, is the real answer to WHY. It is beginning with motive. We love the magic of ideas expressed in words. We hope for what our words can accomplish, whether in print or on line. I think most writers feel this magic.
But we must also learn to use language with proficiency and skill. (And that could be called process.) Only skill linked with creativity will honor the ideas bubbling out on paper or screen. Only that will honor our readers. Motive first, then process.
Of course writing is work, and it should be. Read, re-read. Write, re-write. Does the sentence sing? Is that the best word to convey an emotion? Think. Think. Think.
Love of a profession does not guarantee ease in accomplishing its goals. We create, then we polish our articles, stories, and poems until they are worthy of us and our readers. Accomplishing this–not money, not fame, not even a big publishing contract–is the key to being a successful writer. Success comes first in our hearts.
Back in 2005, the 44th President of the United States, then Senator Barack Obama, was asked to define success. He said, in part, “People I respect who are happy with their lives know success is not just about them. It’s about something bigger than them.” He went on to link success with the sharing of ourselves and the best of our skills with fellow humans.
So, drawing from the big universe of ideas, we head for success. You and I reach toward words that have meaning for us, that set us on fire with the need to share. Then we are awake, and writing.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in writing anything. It’s a small book, spiral bound, selling for $9.95. I joined a dozen other known writers in contributing inspirational and/or informative essays to be published therein. Each of those has value. In addition, there are lined, blank pages in the Journal where writers may jot inspiration and ideas. At the top of each page is a piquant quote from a well-know author. My favorite, which I have quoted many times, is from playwright Tom Stoppard: “Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” I am not mentioning the book because sales benefit me. (They don’t, at this point.) I promote it on your behalf. I am sure it’s still available. See your bookseller or http://www.wolfmont.com. Write: firstname.lastname@example.org or Wolfmont Press at 238 Park Drive NE, Ranger, GA 30734. http://www.RadinesBooks.com