Hi everyone! Today I’m going to be sharing something a little different with you – a guest post by Todd Sullivan, author of the Windshine Chronicles trilogy. He’s shared a lovely post titled ‘I do’ for us, all about his relationship and experience with writing. I hope you love it as much as I do (see what I did there…)!
I go back and forth on the question of love when it is posed to me.
“So, do you love writing? Do you write because you’re passionate about it?”
I often feel that people who are still working toward some ideal of author, much like teens who hold some romantic notion of relationships, speak about how much they love writing; how it’s something they can’t do without.
At the same time, I’ve read and listened to plenty of established writers say that you have to love writing in order to keep pushing forward towards greater levels of mastery and success. So where’s the distinction with these two different groups of people at different walks of life who pontificate on the love of the craft?
As I roll this question around in my head, the answer has lately been the same. I don’t like using the word ‘love’ for writing. Things I love are my parents, my brothers and sisters. Ascribing the word ‘love’ to the process of putting words on the page feels strange to me.
However, I am devoted to writing and its many manifestations. I am devoted to publishing, to conversing with other writers and learning about their own personal journey with the craft. I am devoted to teaching others what I have discovered about streams of thought and the mental blocks that keep it damned in the brain.
I’ve always found it curious how if you pose a question to a person, they can speak for many minutes on it, exhausting hundreds of words. Yet if you ask them to write the same answer down, the floodgates close in the face of a blank page.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be so surprising, however. Writing is relatively new to the human species. A quick google search shows that it began as cuneiform in Mesopotamia around 3400 BC and was developed into a writing system in China 1300 BC. Yet humans in our current form, Homo sapiens, have been around for 300,000 years. For almost our entire human history, we didn’t etch words down in any type of written form. It’s no wonder that people have such difficulty in doing an activity which was unknown of until relatively recent in human evolution.
The pursuit of writing is more like a marriage. There’s an intense spark of passion which initially sets it off. This lust for words eventually leads to a relationship, which ends with a proposal on one knee, ring in hand. But after marriage, you only maintain the union out of determination. You make a decision that this personal contract, which can be broken at any time, will be kept intact through good times, but more importantly, through the many bad times. No matter how often you may say you love something or someone, it’s devotion that keeps you together during the frequent periods of immense distress, pain, and those long dark winters of the soul that can pervade all artificially manufactured relationships.
To love family for one’s lifetime is one thing, as that’s a blood connection that goes to our physical cores.
To love a partner for the duration is something else.
At some early point in my life, I could have gone in many directions. Youth is envied because of the myriad paths that are open which slowly yet steadily close off as you get older. I came close to quitting writing many times throughout adolescence. My earliest breakup came when I was still in elementary school and despaired because the stories I wrote didn’t read like the stories of published authors. A silly concern, really, as published authors have been at the craft longer and have an entire industry editing their narratives. A single writer trying to make their work sound like a professionally published book is on a fool’s quest.
Invariably, in high school, I went back to writing, only to contemplate leaving it again in university when nothing I wrote got published no matter how many people in workshops across the years thought it was quite good. Like all intimate relationships, however, as time goes on it starts to become harder to imagine a life in which your partner isn’t there with you. And it becomes easier to get back together after a breakup, even if a lot of the motivational force has more to do with having become adapted to the presence of the person in your daily routine rather than any genuine like or attraction. Within the insubstantial nature of reality and the ever changing quality of life, having something stable is comfort in and of itself.
So do I love writing? Not particularly, but I can no longer imagine a reality in which I didn’t write. It has become another limb, an unseen attachment that cloaks me and has a reality and sentience of its own. A partner summoned from the ether, existing with life and agency, and to whom at some point in the past I said, “I do”.