It’s interesting that I’m starting to write about this quote after I finished Margaret Atwood’s Master Class last week. One of the final lessons talked about how books represent two different kinds of economy–commercial and gift. When I looked back at the quote, I thought about how this could all be interwoven which makes it the perfect topic for me to discuss today.
First, I need to share the quote. It’s by Amy Tan, and she says this about writing. “Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone. A gift. I can see that. I pour a lot of myself into each story I write, so much, that I usually need to take a break after I write a piece so I can regain some of my creative energy. It can be mentally draining to write a story, book, blog post, article, anything really. I’m not saying other creative professions don’t experience that same mental draining. I’m just talking about my own experiences as a writer. But, if I were to guess, I would say it is true across all creative professions. Expressing our gift, our creativity, is work, but it’s also what we give to the world so it’s unique.
Once a book is finished though, it moves through the commercial economy and becomes a commodity to be bought and sold which, I think, makes it confusing for people who wonder why books cost so much, well, why any creative endeavor costs money. They think that any person expressing their creative gifts should be willing to express then for free. Now, many creative people do express their gifts for free which, I think, has made us feel entitled to receive all creative gifts for free. (Hence, the proliferation of online pirating of authors’ work)
But, because of this reasoning and this entitlement, many writers and other creative people have to work more than one job to afford the commodities of life–food, shelter, healthcare, transportation, etc., etc. This makes them have less time to focus on their writing or creative endeavors and makes sure that the rest of us lose out on what might have been an amazing piece of creative expression.
I digress though. Today’s quote is about how writing is a gift not how people aren’t willing to pay for creativity as a commodity. Writing has certainly been a gift to me. It has allowed me to make sense of my life and realize that it has been a life worth living. I have shared my story by writing it down, and now it exists in written form for generations to come. That’s the gift I offer to the people in my life, and I encourage you to do the same. We are a people of story, after all.
Have a great day, everyone!