Temporary illness (a cold, or flu – who knows?) has left me without the ability to do much at all for five days. Amongst the bouts of feeling sorry for myself and being angry at this thing that has possessed me, I have been contemplating why I write. I mean by this, why I write NOW, as opposed to before. I have this sense that I have something important to write, but I am not sure what this is.
I don’t have a problem with subject matter, or genre. My current writing activities include curating some of my poems for a book, a ‘How to’ book for career practitioners, an anthology of short stories, a book on interview techniques, and some autobiographical stuff.
My problem is more about what message I am sending. This was no problem when I wrote as my day job. I could still do that safe (and more monetarily rewarding) kind of writing; in fact, I have made a few attempts at doing so, but somehow I felt I was letting myself down.
In the fog of my recovery process I stumbled upon Ursula Le Guin’s acceptance speech for receiving the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards in 2014. I haven’t read her books and am unfamiliar with her life story, but as I listened quietly I found a real connection between her words about the role of the writer and my evolving writing persona.
While I listened quietly to this clip, the world spoke to me, using a language that I understood so well, the words I had not dared to utter. It told me that independent writers will help to guide the world into the future; that we have outgrown our current capitalist-commodity-based society which has become a parody of itself; and that as writers we can lead the world into a new existence, a new paradigm, under the banner of freedom, which is our ‘beautiful reward’.
If you would like to hear the speech, here it is: