The Messenger's Drive
The written word has been something I’ve held onto as a passionate hobby for many years…since I was 24 to be precise. As I mentioned in one of my earlier pieces, “Finding Shelter from the Downpour”, I’ve made it a goal to keep up with writing, hoping that one day my message will reach someone. In a way, I hope that message conveys something important and meaningful to someone’s life, particularly when dealing with matters of providing help to those who are in need of it.
I believe a lot of us writers share this same kind of desire. We have something to say and we want people to listen. We want some kind of feedback. We want to hear someone tell us that they enjoyed what we wrote or give us suggestions on what we could do to improve our craft. When it comes down the ultimate motivation for writing, it boils down to recognition from others.
The fact is that although creating something powerful with the written word is a great achievement, many will tell you that it is also a very lonely hobby.
When it comes to putting together a work, you are committing yourself to sitting down in front of a computer monitor, cutting yourself off from the outside world. First, you have to type out your words. After that, you will spend a lot of time looking over your work and trying to pick out your editorial errors. If you are married with a family or belong to an active community of writers, this task can be easy because you know someone is there to provide you support. However, if you’re on your own and this is not part of your daily routine, you can find yourself struggling with doubts about whether your stuff is any good. You may even wonder if anyone will take the time to read it because you know how people get preoccupied with their own obligations.
So it gets to a point that we may ask: Is it even worth it for me to do this anymore? Why do I keep at it?
The answer crossed my mind a while ago when I was watching an episode of Dr. Who, “Vincent and the Doctor.” (SPOILER WARNING FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN THE EPISODE)
When the Doctor travels back in time, he finds himself face to face with Vincent Van Gogh. who appears troubled because he feels like his works hold no real value or meaning to the world around him. The Doctor and his companion befriend Vincent which seems to lift his spirits. However, they eventually explain to him that they can’t stay with him for long. Vincent then locks himself in his bedroom, yelling about how people constantly leave him and forget about him.
By the end of the episode, the Doctor takes Vincent to a museum that displays his works to a room full of patrons. Vincent stares in wonder. As he does, he overhears the Doctor speak to one of the museums’ guides, asking the guide where Von Gogh “rates in the history of art.” The gentleman’s response sends Van Gogh into tears:
“To me, Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all….He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world: No one had ever done it before….To my mind, that strange wild man who roamed the fields of Provance was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.”
What I described above deals with a painter rather than a writer, but the meaning of this scene has a powerful meaning for us writers. Van Gogh confessed to the Doctor his lack of feeling any value in his life, yet he was driven to tears of joy just by the kind words of one admirer.
Why do we keep writing? We value recognition. We want to be noticed. We want our message to mean something to someone out there…especially when our work means so much to us! That’s our greatest drive.
So here I write this for you, the writer, who deals with the daily struggle of self-worth. I won’t sit here and tell you that you will be the next famous individual like Van Gogh, However, if you post what you feel, if you share your thoughts, and if you truly express what you feel inside, you will be recognized and appreciated! The world around us does get busy, so it can be hard to grab someone’s attention to see what it is you have to say. However, if you keep posting, publishing, and sharing, someone will notice!
Whether we realize it or not, we as people need a message in our lives. There’s always someone out there looking for knowledge or guidance. When we create our work, it’s permanent and no one can erase what we say in the written word except for the writer who created it. When that reader comes along and sees what you said, you’ll touch their soul in a way that has never been touched before…and you’ll inspire them. They may not become the next writer or anything grand or famous as a result, but they’ll feel more alive because you’ll show them a world they never thought existed. You’re giving them something new to think about and talk about with others. That’s how your audience is born.
So take that time you need to sit in your quiet corner, think of your words, type them out, and share them. Even if those words reach just one reader, that’s one more person in this world who feels more alive and valuable because of you!