I used to really love writing.
As in REALLY. LOVE. WRITING.
I used to disappear for days on end with little more than my journal, a pen and a Little Oxford Dictionary to keep me company. I missed appointments, forfeited opportunities and cut back on anything distracting or destructive for the simple chance of writing a few words on a piece of paper than no one except me and the Almighty knew about.
Writing used to be sacred and transformative, nothing less than an act of saving grace. This started to change a few years ago. More and more people asked me to share my writings with them: friends, family members, someone who broke into my office where my journals were kept who spend hours reading through them and confessed to me the next morning. You know, the usual. It dawned on me that it is selfish to keep these words to myself; that sharing them is both the logical and the loving thing to do. Looking back on it now, I don’t doubt my conclusion that it was time to share my words, but I do doubt the way I set about doing it.
Being a child of the digital age, I did the logical thing: I started a blog. My first blog was written under a pseudonym, but after a few months I realised that I needed to own my voice, and hence I started a new website under my own name. So far so good, I wouldn’t have done it any differently. Recognizing the benefit that people gleaned from reading what I had to say, I concluded that the next logical step was to start working on a book, and I went about doing just that.
About a year and a half down the line I completed this momentous task, leaving a finished and professionally edited manuscript in my hands, complete with a foreword and a book cover and a website. There was only one problem though: By the time I had finished the book, I hated writing. The one thing that once was my lifeline to reality became a nauseating burden to me.
The further I progressed along the path of seeking publication, the less passionate I became about words and writing. The industry of writing – making a product, building a platform, selling a product and so forth – was sucking the life out of the art of writing, so much so that I stopped writing altogether for about six months. In A is for Zebra: Exploring the Art of Soul Writing, I ask myself the poignant question: “Why do I write?”, and go about answering that question as honestly as possible.
In doing so, I re-discovered a timeless truth: Writers must toil with words because we love to write, and not because we love to be read.