When you feel like it’s not enough

I had this doubt in my mind for many years that being a writer and creating entertaining fiction works was not enough. That it wasn’t serious enough, helpful enough, that it would never change a world desperately in need of positive change. I’ve been surrounded for large portions of my life by people who are incredibly helpful, who do things that make a direct difference to people’s lives. And I’ve long thought that I ought to be doing the same. Doing something worthy and uplifting and beneficial.

As though writing literature isn’t any of those things. Don’t ask me why I adopted this attitude, I can’t even be sure myself, I think it is a complex combination of factors. But the key component for me is that I allowed myself to think like that. To think that being an artist, purely being an artist, was somehow less, somehow frivolous.

And many might say that it is. That I ought to use my education and talents to make a different kind of difference. But it wasn’t until recently, when I re-examined myself, again, and looked at what it is that I am truly here to do, what I am truly passionate about, what I am best at – that I knew that writing is exactly the right thing for me and that there couldn’t be any better way for me to contribute.

I write for pleasure, yes. I’d do it even if I didn’t want a career out of it. I’ve always done it. But I also write for deeper reasons, reasons that I’m not even sure of. It’s the one thing that I’m still compelled do after 36 years on this Earth, and having tried lots of other different things in my life.

Thinking the way I was thinking, that subtle but definite sense of inferiority, I believe held me back in my work. It meant I was too often looking for a ‘message’ or an educational slant to what I was doing. However, in the last draft of my novel I completely let go of all that. I let go of all those other intentions and I decided to write the thing that told the best story, the thing that entertained and thrilled me the most. And honestly, when I did that, the best work I’ve ever done finally came out.

 

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