I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose lately. I guess that’s what recent graduates do. Like so many others, I’ve worked hard to develop areas of expertise, qualifications, and platform. I’ve had some great successes and a few difficult setbacks along the way. I’m well positioned to do what I set out to do.
The question comes floating from the back of a busy mind: Why are you doing this?
The short answer is that I write for two reasons:
- I love the written form, particularly the story form.
- I am a passionate advocate for people with neurological differences.
As some of you may recall, I’ve wanted to write for most of my life. At the age of ten, I stood up in front of my class in my prettiest dress, wearing shiny shoes, with my hair in rather lopsided curls, and announced that I wanted to be a writer, particularly an author. I reached this inevitable conclusion after reading a good book and having the sudden epiphany that somebody wrote it, the people make a living writing. I was hooked. My teacher, Mr. Walker, took me aside later that day and, with a wink, said, “You know, the great thing about being a writer is you can show up to work in your pajamas. You don’t have to dress up for it.” Even better!
I wanted to write novels. I wanted to write stories. I still do.
Then, I grew up. I had children of my own. My children were different, special. We live in a world where people like my children are threatened and even murdered, sometimes by strangers, but often by doctors, teachers, even their own parents.
I wanted to write about justice. I wanted to write about possibility. I happen to be good at it.
So I do it. A lot.
I still want to write novels, but if I spend 40% of my time writing for survival (i.e., getting paid for it) and 50% of my time writing with purpose and passion (i.e. advocacy writing), it leaves only 10% for fiction. For now, I’m okay with that. There is purpose in writing fiction. But, for now, my work is taking me in its own direction and I’m more than willing to follow.
So, I want you to stop and think for a moment. Don’t ask yourself what you’re doing. Ask yourself why. Where does the answer take you?