The reasons why I continue to write

I am willing to bet that self-doubt is a common human affliction–and is even more of a hidden struggle for those who display a quality I find most offensive: hubris.
I was at an art gallery in Halifax last year to visit an exhibition of an artist friend of mine. Alan Bateman was in the audience and he made a comment about self-doubt and I was taken aback.
He is considered one of Canada’s finest realists in visual art and is the son of Robert Bateman, an international household name. Self-doubt? How is that possible.
Alan said, “Self-doubt is the constant companion of all those who create.” I took comfort in his words.
It is January and the long nights of cold; the dreary days that line up one after the other seem to constantly whisper at me. Why do you write? Why not just go back to bed?
Though I hold up my hand in protest to stop the attack, the words get in and I drop my pencil and wander off to play a game on my iPad and to stare at the fridge willing something to leap out at me.
But I always wander back because I can’t help myself. I love to write. I love to immerse myself with my characters and solve their problems on the page, and I learn so much from them. I have no idea where I’m going when I write; it is an adventure of discovery.
I regularly read a blog by Maria Popova where in she recently wrote, “Since the invention of the printing press, books have fed the human animal’s irrepressible hunger for truth and meaning.”
I was a hungry reader when I was young and the library was my greatest companion. I read every book in the “Lone Ranger” series and I galloped madly on my own pony and shouted out “Hi-Ho Silver, away!” When I was even younger than that, I read the Bobbsey Twins and Noddy with Big Ears.
Reading was an adventure like no other, where the possibilities were limitless and I curled up in a corner under a warm blanket and left my earthly world behind to fly above the clouds–to solve mysteries with Nancy Drew or to ache with Travis and the loss of his dog in “Old Yeller.”
Books taught me to understand that life doesn’t always make sense and sometimes there aren’t any answers.
Maria Popova recently wrote of Rebecca Solnit, whom she considers “one of the most lyrical and insightful writers of our time.” Rebecca Solnit had this to say about books: “The object we call a book is not the real book but its potential, like a musical score or seed”–words she included in “A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader.”
I have asked my local library to hold this book for me. I can’t wait to read it.
Books gave me safety and discovery as a child, and continue to encourage me to understand as an adult. Maybe one reader will find herself or himself on the pages of my creations, and what a happy blessing that would be.
I find myself on the pages I write; find myself there between the lines, lonely in its pursuit but always learning. I will stare January down and explain that is why I write.
“So pipe down, January, and leave me to it.”
wendistewart@live.ca

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