Thursday, May 24, 2012

Self-reflection: Passion for Work

While I was in school I felt focused and driven.  Sure, I was stressed out most of the time, but happy.  Then I graduated.  The assignments and deadlines ceased, and I floundered.

I had two feature-length screenplays written, ready to polish and market; however, along the way, I got sidetracked trying to find my "passion."  I came across books, articles, and blog posts that emphasized the importance of finding our passion and making a career of it.  We should be soooo passionate about our work that we would do it whether or not we received pay; and we should want to do it even in our free time.

This trend of thinking got me sidetracked.  I thought I was passionate about writing, and I would certainly do it (and have done it for years) without pay, but writing is not something I dash to the minute I find a free moment.  It's not something I turn to for fun and relaxation.  In fact, I experienced literal anxiety attacks just over the thought of working on my screenplays.

I began to doubt my chosen studies and career path, and spent most of last year searching for my "passion."  Slowly, I began to realize that I am compelled to write.  I need to write.  I want to write. Just because I don't rush to my pages when free-time surfaces, doesn't mean I'm not passionate about it.

And I learned I'm not alone in this.  In fact, I'm in good company... E.B. White (author of Charlotte's Web) said writing was, "hard work for me and usually not attended with any joy.  It has its satisfactions but the act of writing is often a pure headache.... When I want some fun, I don't write, I go sailing." (E.B. White: Some Writer! by Beverly Gherman, p.3)

In her book Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers, Susan Shaughnessy describes, "Most days, I drag myself down to where I write.  I stare at the computer screen with a sinking and skeptical heart.  Then I put my fingers on the keys. ...

"You will find your own rhythms as a writer.  But unless you are one of the very few, you'll face resistance every day.  Why?  Nobody really knows.  It seems to be an integral part of the drive to write--a shadow you can never shake" (p.2).

"It is a dreadful fact that writing is like any other work.  Having written is another matter.  It is a joy; it is fulfillment. ... But writing itself, writing every day, is work.  Rare is the writer who, like the late Isaac Asimov, finds writing his greatest relaxation and is eager to start and reluctant to stop" (p.26).

During my "passionate" quest, I came across numerous quotes about the difficulty in writing.  This explains why, when I sit down to write, I have the sudden urge to wax the shower curtain rod.

So...psssh.  Passion-shmashion.  I'm a writer.  And I'm happy with that.  


  1. I "need" to write too.

    Thought provoking quotes! Thank you for those!

  2. Susan, I've been thinking about you, your writing, and your photography. I came across the coolest writing/photography workshop. I will send you a link through your blog email, so you can drool over it too. :-)