Do you think your writing is worth doing — as an end in itself?

“It is,” I said. “It is the one altogether pleasant thing about it.”

Photo by Mateusz Klein on Unsplash

As I start to take my writing more seriously, there is one question that I end up asking myself a lot. Why write anything at all? Does the world really need another writer? Isn’t everyone writing anyways? What’s the point in putting a bunch of words together just so I can throw my unsolicited opinion out there? And not just that but also have the audacity to expect the world to care about my opinions? Why write anything?

Writing is difficult. Good writing is painfully difficult. Great writing is nearly impossible. And yet, here I am. Typing away at my keyboard, trying to turn scrambling thoughts into coherent sentences, one keystroke at a time. Thinking to myself, why am I doing this.

I see a lot of articles on the Internet that talk about writing as a “side-hustle”. Write a bunch of words on the web and make money so you can quit your job and sip margaritas on a beach somewhere and retire. They talk about ways to perfect your blogs, how to sell ads and products to your audience, crack the algorithms, and perfect the SEOs. Is that what writing is about? A side hustle? That’s just unfortunate and heartbreaking.

I hope I don’t come off as some pretentious snob when I say this but that just seems disrespectful to the art form. Yes, writing is a form of art. Just like music, dance, and filmmaking. No one talks about dancing or making music or movies as a side hustle. Because art is not a hustle. For some reason, I feel like writing doesn’t get that type of respect. I imagine Dickens and Fitzgerald rolling in their graves.

I wonder if most amateur writers deal with a similar dilemma. Is a writer simply chasing money and global recognition or is he searching for meaning? Does he write simply because he has something to say? Does she write because not writing would be a miserable existence? Maybe that is why we write. We write because it is our chosen art form. And we feel art trying to burst through our hearts, in the form of words. We are merely putting those words on a page.

I have recently been reading the book “Ernest Hemingway On Writing” (edited by Larry W. Phillips). In the book, there is a snippet of a conversation between Hemingway and someone else from Hemingway’s book Green Hills Of Africa. I reproduce that snippet here.

“Do you think your writing is worth doing — as an end in itself?”

“Oh, yes.”

“You are sure?”

“Very sure.”

“That must be very pleasant.”

“It is,” I said. “It is the one altogether pleasant thing about it.”

Perhaps that is the purpose of writing, in that the purpose is writing itself. There is no ulterior motive. It is not a means to an end. We write because we think that writing itself is worth doing, as an end in itself.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t think making money in itself is some evil endeavor. In fact, money is very important. Money is a tool that enables us to do more and to be more. I don’t see anything wrong in making money from writing, or any art form for that matter. I just feel hurt when writing is relegated to a “hustle”, and a “side” hustle at that. Think of this simply as a rant of an amateur writer. Forgive me. After all, amateur comes from amare in Latin which means “to love”. And I am just a lover of this form of art. I hope you are too.

Excelsior!

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