Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When Writing Is An Act Of Rebellion

Sure, most of us write because we're in love with stories. They fill us up and the only way we can find peace is to release them into the world.

But, sometimes the act of creation is an expression of rebellion. A way of saying to the world, "Fine! You're going to be that way? Well, you can just suck it! I'm going to make my own world!" Then, huddle up in the corner with a pack of crayons and a petulant look on your face.

Maybe creation is a rebellion is against the expectations that life has for you. You're supposed to be normal. Responsible. Do something with a guarantee. You're supposed to expect boredom to follow you around. Progress quietly and respectably, follow the guidelines and never tell anyone what you really think or feel. Keep yourself to yourself. Someone always knows better than you. Someone else wrote the rules. The best you can do is play the game.

Maybe the rebellion is against the expectations other people have for you. The judgement in their eyes when they hear you want to do anything impossible. The sneer when you insist on finding out for yourself. Their expectation that you will fail.

Sometimes love doesn't sustain us. Passion doesn't inspire us. Things grow stale. The page is blank, the studio is empty and nothing is blooming.

I think in these times it is perfectly acceptable to fall back on rebellion. Why am I going to do this? Because someone thinks I can't. Maybe that someone is me. Maybe that someone is the whole, entire world. Either way, screw you!

What about you? What keeps you working when mere love of the work isn't enough?

(For some the act of writing carries more danger. The stifling of free speech and the silencing of dissenting voices is common practice around the world. Many have been imprisoned for expressing their beliefs. I argue that in these cases writing is not only an act of rebellion, but one of extreme courage. Thank you to those brave enough to let their voices be heard.)


  1. Oh, I agree.
    Love this post. Rebel yell, sister. :)

  2. Where did this strange obsession with angry cats come from?

    I always thought one of the main reasons people write is to transcend time. I suppose this could be seen as a form of rebelling against the inevitability of time.

  3. Hmm, What keeps me working when mere love of the work isn't enough? Stubbornness, really. I want to be a published author and be paid for doing something that I’m passionate about, so even when my characters are being problematic and I feel more like knocking my head against the keys than using them as tools, I remember that there is more to this than mere love, this is a career and saying ‘to hell with this’ is not an option.

  4. "Then, huddle up in the corner with a pack of crayons and a petulant look on your face." Help me remember how much I loved this quote when it's Bitty huddled up in a corner.

  5. Wow, this post resonates with me SO much. Most of the people in my life never saw writing as a "practical" thing to do. It was always assumed that I wasn't really working when I wrote, sang, or danced. I used to try to defend myself at every turn but over time, I have learned that these are all my outlets, not theirs, so it is okay if they don't understand! I keep working when it is dismal because I look towards my end goal: to create something that will add to the world.
    Love this post so much!

  6. Lola - Thanks!

    Krista - Dunno. I just find them amusing. Rebellion against the concept of mortality. Check.

    Lindsey - It's true. There are lots of times I don't want to go to work, but I have to, because it's my job. Applying the same mindset to writing can be extremely helpful. Thanks for your comment!

    Shawna - Heh. Hopefully the crayons stay in contact with paper, as opposed to walls and furniture.

    Saumya - Thank you! So many people underplay the full power of the arts. It can get pretty discouraging when everyone thinks you're just "messing around". Good luck to you!