This post was written by author and Ottawa Writing Workshops Instructor Julia Lye.
When it comes to writing, I feel it’s a common preconception that we should only write stories that “matter.” But to who?
As writers, we can sometimes pigeonhole ourselves into only writing topical, political, philosophical, or any other kind of -cal stories, and we sometimes forget to let ourselves write for the simple enjoyment of it. The writing fever, as I call it, when you just can’t stop your hand racing across the page and it’s 2am and you can’t remember when the sun went down. My childhood into my late teens were vivid with writing fever, acquainting myself with the broader brushstrokes of my imagination, and then life caught up with me. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I started setting time aside for writing, rather than setting time aside for everything else, and I only wrote when I had something to say.
Now, I’m not a very loud person, nor are my opinions, so waiting around to be riled up wasn’t the most efficient way to keep up my old writing habits. I lost some of the richness of enjoyment in my focus on writing for an audience. That’s a tough spot for any writer, as doubts encroach in the shadow of capital P Perfection, fuelled by the need to make something popular, and to give it merit in the vast, ever-expanding ocean of literature. It becomes so easy to paint ourselves into a corner, where we think we need a reason to do the thing we as writers should be doing out of love. My two cents on the matter were best put by the man, the myth, the legend Patrick Swayze. No one puts Baby in a corner. Not even ourselves.
Giving your story a message for the audience to hold onto isn’t a bad thing but making something you love, and pouring your heart and soul into it, are the most important parts of writing. Whatever happened to escapism? To fun for the sake of fun? Your enjoyment of your own writing is the key to reader enjoyment, even if the story doesn’t have a genius and elaborate deeper meaning for the theorists and critics to pull their hair out over. Your passion for the story itself will bleed through the page, and your love for it will be contagious. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what matters.