I first read this book by the very gifted Annie Dillard in 2003. I had read several of her books at that point, like Holy the Firm, The Living, and her most famous one, Pilgrim of Tinker Creek. But this one on the art of writing deeply challenged me, partly because it was a season in my life when the encouragement to write was very strong. At that point in 2003, I had only published one article.
So it was with great joy that I picked up The Writing Life to read again now in 2018. Part of my joy is in the fact that now I can honestly say I’m a published writer! Since 2003, I’ve published nine articles, three chapters in books, and my first full book last October. (and now working on another one.) If you are interested in writing, of whatever kind, I highly recommend Dillard’s book. It is not a long read, and not highly technical or detailed. But it is worth reading for the beauty of her phrases alone, as all her books are.
I meet more and more people from all over the world, and all ages, that want to be writers. I love to talk to people about this, to encourage them to not give up, write a bit every day or whenever they can, and most of all believe they can write!! Just in the past three months, I have met a man in his early 80’s who has come to writing just in the last decade. He has continued to work at it, and has published articles in periodicals. I recently met a 12 year old girl, who felt a deep passion to write!
There are some that will read this that also feel an urging deep within, to write. If you feel even the remotest stirring to communicate your story to others, don’t give up on it! Some have started blogs, others have written pieces for local newspapers or magazines. Others have taken classes to learn how to write fiction, or history, or a memoir of their own story. Invest in yourself in this way, and you will bless not only those around you who will read it, but also the generations to come!
I am deeply blessed to have several friends who are in their 80’s. Each of them has a keen mind and a desire to still contribute. I have tried to encourage them to write, in whatever way they can. Why do I do that? Because I see the gift within them, and want the future generations to benefit from this great treasure!
But it must start with you convincing yourself that you have an important contribution to make. Looking in the mirror and saying with full conviction, I am a writer! That is what I had to do. I was almost in my mid 40’s in 2003 when I first read The Writing Life. As I wrote recently in another post, I was sitting in the Writers Lounge in the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, a year later in 2004. It was there that I wrote in my journal that I believed I was called to write, and that I must do so.
Fourteen years later, I’m so glad I didn’t give up that conviction. And I’m not done.