gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

Because writers write

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I haven’t been writing.
I haven’t been writing because I have been very busy with the many other things that always take precedence – earning a living and mothering my children being the biggest culprits. Ironically, not writing has made me think quite carefully about why it is that I write at all. It is, after all, just another thing on an already overloaded plate which adds to my general sense of stress and lack of time. Life would be easier if I decided NOT to write.

I can tell you that I certainly don’t write for the money. I believe that writers all over the world can’t give up their day jobs unless they are very successful but I have to tell you, here in South Africa it is particularly true. My annual earnings from writing, at their highest, are less than my fixed expenses for one month. I confess that my fixed expenses are not the lowest in the world, but still. It doesn’t seem right. So it’s not the money.

And it’s not the fame. There is no fame. Sometimes my friends are kind enough to imply that I am awfully clever to be a writer. But it has been extremely rare in my life – okay, once – that a person has actually reacted like I am slightly famous. Which is a pity, because I’ve practised a modest little shrug that is completely wasted. There is no fame.

And it’s not because it comes easily to me. I have read a lot about writers, and it actually seems that the one thing we all have in common is that writing tears us apart – we want to do it but we dread it and we struggle with it. There is a famous saying – I have no energy to google who said it, I’ll leave that to you – that “writing is easy – you just sit down at the typewriter and slice open a vein”.

So why do I do it? Why do we all do it?

The answer for me I suspect is the answer for many writers. And it is so simple that it has to be right. I am happier on the days that I write than on the days that I don’t. And isn’t that really what life is all about?


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