For the last year or so, I've been muddling through what I can only guess is a midlife crisis of some variety--although I tend toward the introspective and soul-searching anyhow, so a fair portion of my life has consisted of mid-something crises of some variety or another. Lately, I've come to believe that these phases of looking within are less crisis and more just part of the normal cycle of things--life is a journey, and all that. The day I stop questioning what I'm doing and why, it's all over, I suppose.
I linked an article by Holly Lisle the other day that comes really close to my own take on what drives me to write and on life in general. For a while, I lost sight of why I wanted to be a writer, and it became more about proving something than about the writing itself. And nothing I wrote was ever big enough in financial terms to be deemed a success as success is defined by a large number of people. I ended up cutting myself off from the joy of a lot of small triumphs and celebratory moments because none of them were ever BIG enough to justify, once and for all, that I deserved to be a writer, that what I was doing was important enough to continuing to do it. And I quit writing altogether for a year or two, because I let myself believe in the conclusion that unless I could make a living from it, it wasn't worth doing at all. I can hear several of you out there hollering, "Bullshit!" Yours are the voices I should've been listening to all along, but you know... It's a funny thing, isn't it, how the negative voices always sound like reason and logic, and the ones who believe in you are so easily drowned out?
I was raised Catholic, I married a Catholic, and my children are being raised as Catholics (with a good dose of Mom's personal opinions about spirituality and religion tossed into the mix). If not for my children attending a Catholic school, I would likely not be practicing any religion. I've delved into a range of spiritual studies, from Native American beliefs to Wiccan studies to Qabbalism. Probably the pivotal point of my personal spiritual beliefs is an article I read several years ago, in which the author states his belief in the mystery of life--that we can know nothing except that we don't know everything, and therefore the best we can do is the best we can do. I also hold a steadfast belief that, while we can and should learn from other people, each person's best teacher in the realm of spirituality is him or herself. There's a lot to be learned from simply sitting still and listening.
One of the things I hear when I listen is that call to writing. I have examined that call from all sides. I should write because it has the capacity to touch people. I should write because something I write may be the ripple in a larger pond that helps someone, somewhere become who they are supposed to be. I should write because it sets the example for my children that you're allowed to follow your dreams, even if it's hard. I should write because I can, and it would be wasteful not to. But really, if I strip away all the shoulds, it all boils down to the one crystal-clear reason I write, the one that never dissolves even if I lose sight of it for a while.
Someone, something--whatever mystery we come from and return to--insists that it's what I'm made to do--not the only thing, but one of the big ones. I write because it's what I'm called to do. Where that ends up taking me, I don't know. It's the doing that's important.