Why, why, why do I Write?
Posted by Bruce Hennigan
It is a dream I have had since I was 13.
My first published work didn’t occur until I was 40.
But, during the intervening years I wrote over 100 plays performed by the drama team at my church.
Now, I have two fiction books published by Realms.
I have a book on depression that has been in circulation since 2001.
There is a possibility my co-author and I will have a new book deal today and possibly a book series to write.
I have tasted rejection too many times to remember. I have a framed letter of rejection signed by Isaac Asimov from a story I submitted to his magazine in 1973.
I have self-published two books.
I have been “released” by my latest publisher.
I have been through two agents and I am now no my third agent.
I have been duped, hornswaggled, conned, ripped off, and taken advantage of by more publishing schemes than I can remember.
But, I still have my day job and I plan on keeping it.
So, I am sitting here on the balcony of a condo overlooking the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico wondering why I keep doing this. Below me, an eager, fresh faced kid has scrawled in the white sand “Don loves Joanne” with the word “loves” represented by the image of a heart pierced by an arrow. Beside those huge words is a fading admonition from another love stricken person, “Bye Retta”. The letters are barely visible having been filled in by the fierce winds of the last three days.
I am very much aware that my work as a writer is much like the latter. It will fade with time and no one will remember a word I have written after I am long gone. Although I am thinking positively, there is the distinct possibility that every word I have ever written will be gone shortly after I am gone. My name may never grace the halls of fame along with Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury or Mark Twain.
Why do I keep writing, then? Why do I lose sleep at night constructing the latest story. Why do I watch people and try to discern what makes them tick so I can create a new character? Why do I sit in misery trying to plan my next step now that I have been “released” by my publisher? Why, why, why?
Reason #1 — I realized early in my life that God had given me a gift, or a curse, however you look at it. I can’t not write. And here is the thrust of what God has shown me. I have NEVER been able to be successful as an author by writing the story that I wanted to write. I have only been successful when I wrote the Story that God wants me to write. This has required me to redefine the word “successful”. It’s not about money. It’s not about fame. It has to do with Reason #2.
Reason #2 — At the recent Platform conference, I was pleased to hear over and over again that if a person focuses on changing people’s lives, they will be successful. Touching one person’s life in a positive way can NEVER be reduced to a dollar figure. My good friend Chan told me once, “I don’t always get to be the closer. But, I will put a rock in their shoe.” There are times I get immediate feedback from something I have written and I learn that someone’s life has been altered in a good way. But, I will never see the end result of that tiny alteration. Only God knows how that ripple will change a person’s life way down the line. With our depression book alone, Mark Sutton and I have received countless emails telling us the book “saved my life”. You cannot put an earthly value on that! It has eternal value only. And, my friend, when I realize this, I can only rejoice that God has used something that came out of my brain to change the course of someone’s life. But, that “something” didn’t happen in a vacuum and that brings me to Reason #3.
Reason #3 — Every successful endeavor that has occurred in my life was totally unplanned. In fact, the plans I had for my life have never come true. But, the plans that God has for my life have come true. Over and over and over. Time and time again, doors opened; windows opened; opportunities fell into my lap; “coincidences” happened. And, when I followed the voice of God, my endeavors have always been a success. I never planned on having depression. God turned my experience into a book that has changed lives. I never planned on writing drama. God took those stories and changed people’s lives. I never planned on having such deep doubts about Christianity that I would become an apologist. God has taken my teaching and has changed lives.
Why do I write? Because it is God’s mission for my life. And, as long as I seek to be a part of the Work that God has for me to do Today, then I will continue to be “successful”. Successful, not in the world’s view, but in God’s view. I have always said that a person should seek to be involved in something that will outlast his life; something that will have eternal consequences. I am hoping that one day, when I am sitting at the feet of Jesus in the Beyond someone will put a hand on my shoulder and thank for me that play I wrote or that book I wrote or that blog post. And, there is no earthly reward to even begin to compare to that!
Tell me — Why Do You Write? Why Do You Indulge in Your Passion?