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How Has Writing Positively Influenced Your Life? (Writing Contest)

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This is my entry to Positive Writer’s 2015 essay contest.

How has writing positively influenced your life?

It’s a simple question, wide open to interpretation. And it’s one we probably don’t stop to ponder often enough as we wander through this journey of “being a writer”.

You have to stop to ask it occasionally, because the answer to this question is the reason you write.

And don’t say money. Everyone can say money. But that’s not good enough.

I used to feel compelled to write to share a message with readers. I used to derive my greatest satisfaction from hearing of some epiphany or life change a reader achieved after reading something I’d written.

But sometime over the past year or so, that has lost almost all of its appeal to me.

I’ve changed. And I’m (kind of) sorry (but kind of not).

Now I write to be known.

Not to become famous or to attract many readers. I write to be known, absolutely, honestly, intimately known, by each single reader I may be fortunate enough to share my work with.

So I write selfishly now. I have no real interest in spreading a message or teaching. I don’t care if I change lives or blow minds or change ideas.

I certainly have opinions and ideas. But I don’t care if anyone else shares them, and I don’t think they have much meaning or potential to influence other people, anyway. They are just things I think because of things I feel because of things I’ve done or experienced or seen.

All I care to do is write them as beautifully as I can and share them with people, who, I hope, will find them beautiful.

That is all that writing can give me now: that readers will enjoy what I write.

Beyond that, I don’t wish anything else of an audience– only that they live their lives with my books in them.

How Writing Has Influenced My Life

Without intention, the content of my books show a pretty clear journey of what writing has meant to me and how it has influenced me over the the years.

Welcome to the Shit Show (2011) is a writer who believes she can live the life and create the work of Hunter Thompson or Henry Miller.

It’s a girl who finds inspiration in her naive discovery of the world. The stories in this book reveal my eyes opening to mild versions of drugs and sex, discovering how cool art can be by following musicians around. During that period, writing helped me simply open my eyes and observe the world around me.

Strangers (2012, re-issued 2015) is an extension of that discovery, with less naiveté.

The essays follow my first forays into calling myself “a writer”, and meeting comedians who helped me understand I could actually make a living doing something I loved. Strangers shows me as the Observer, a woman out to find the stories in the world and record them. In that time, writing was helping me figure out who I could become.

On Being a Writer (2014) is as much a detour from the other books as the one or two years of my career it represents was a detour from my purpose as a writer.

It’s an attempt to create community, to share this life and career with other writers. This book is a collection of essays on the art, craft, and experience of writing from me and writers from the Writer’s Bucket List community. This book represents that period when writing was helping me connect with and learn from this rich community of writers we have online!

How to Be a Woman (forthcoming) is who I am now as a writer.

This book shares a sense of the transition from the business-centric phase in which I published On Being a Writer into the creative focus I’ve adopted. It’s all about sharing my own story, being totally self-indulgent and self-centered.

The work I love to create, including this latest book, is about letting the reader get to know who I am, rather than what I’ve done or what I know.

Writing, publishing, sharing, promoting, and discussing my work – and discovering that of others – over the past four years has brought me to this point. Before I learned to commit it to the page, I could never have shared my own story or my whole self so openly as I do now.

Since I learned to put pen to paper, writing has been the key to my self-discovery and personal growth. It’s not only the foundation of the business and brand I’ve built, but also the core of the person I’ve become.

If no one reads any of these books going forward, I’m still grateful they exist. I self-published each of these, put myself into every bit of every book, so they act as an archive of all the people I’ve been and the things I’ve done over the years.

How lucky am I to have that luxury to preserve my own history?

How has writing positively influenced your life?

Learn more, read other entries, and add your own to Positive Writer’s essay contest before June 1.

Browse our blog archives for resources, tips, and tools for budding writers. Subscribe to updates for more projects from WBL creator Dana Sitar.

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