By David E. Sharp
Originally posted July 2019
While I try to avoid generalized statements, I believe there is a strong case for this one. Who else would put themselves through the agony of word counts, shitty first drafts, killing your darlings, receiving criticism with a smile and a thank you and stacks upon stacks of formal rejections. Passion is intrinsic to the craft.
And, while writers are certainly passionate about writing (you know who you are, you Grammar Nazis!), I’ve found that the writing is a secondary passion.
WRITING IS A CONDUIT.
I don’t believe we start out with a desire to put words on paper for their own sake. The words are a tool for something else that drives us. Perhaps you have an experience that we need to share through memoir. Maybe you have a message to offer. Or a good yarn. Or some tips on how to make discount Halloween costumes with common household items.
Whatever the case, you cared about something enough that it spurred you to take up your pen. When you realized your latest draft was a disaster, something motivated you to devise rewrites.
WE ALL HAVE A SOMETHING. I KNOW BECAUSE I’VE SEEN IT.
For the past few years, I have been working with the High Plains Library District’s writer in residence. Each year, the library district supports a burgeoning writer to create a masterpiece, get a foot in the door and connect with our library community. Part of the contract is that each writer in residence must put on a library program for the community. A small group of librarians help draw out the writer’s expertise and passion and shape it into a program.
You might picture a series of small writing workshops, and there have been some. But these programs are as diverse as the people who deliver them. We’ve had writers who were passionate about history, slow-cooking, cancer awareness and service animals. Tapping into the minds of these remarkable people is never dull.
During our program planning sessions, we talk very little about the craft. And perhaps that’s just as it should be.
Have you found yourself in a lull lately? Are you struggling to put words on the paper? For many of us, writing is in our blood. We could never not write. But if you get tapped out, maybe it’s time to relocate your original talent.
For me, it’s a love for great storytelling. I was a reader before I ever wrote a word, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What about you? What was the passion that drove you to pick up a pen?