From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, November 17, 2014

What Matters Most? And Is That Why You Write?

I stayed up late this weekend and watched Sense and Sensibility for approximately the bajillionth time. I feel like I always kind of learn something or discover something new when I watch that movie.

This time I noticed what I guess I could call endurance versus intensity. Marianne undergoes something so traumatic and so deeply cutting in a moment of intense pain that she nearly, literally, doesn't survive. The punch is so hard it knocks her completely out for a while. Eleanor, on the other hand, has a less dramatic yet far longer struggle. Her battle is one of grit and endurance. She has to grin and bear a secret that breaks her apart inside all while managing family practical matters as well as caring for her sister in her lightning strike of a blow. Eleanor's type of battle has its own kind of intensity, I think.

This may be a bit more of a personal, thinky-type post, but I hope you'll bare with me. It's something that's been on my mind for the past little while.

Perhaps its the holidays, but I've found myself looking a bit more closely at my priorities list. Not reevaluating, necessarily. More experiencing emotionally how incredibly important the important things are, and how everything else is just so not.

Blogging is not important. The number of readers you have on Feedly or followers on Twitter is so not important. I am one of those very prone to getting that wrong--to letting my day feel crappy when I lose a follower on Instagram. To rising levels of anxiety when I think too hard about how many Facebook fans or YouTube subscribers I'd need to sell all the books I haven't published yet. Brain...what?

You know what is important, though? The people who read your blog. The bloggers you read. Not the number of followers, and not even necessarily the topics of the blogs, but the individuals themselves. They matter. You matter. And if even one person has read something on this blog that has been useful or calming in any way, that is the point.

We writers face battles all the time, of both the intensity and endurance type. (I mean, every one does, in every profession, but we're talking specifics here.) A rejection from an agent or a negative review can strike you down for a week. And the battle of submission is, I'd wager, the longest battle many of us have ever fought. Not to mention the battle for readers.

It is wearing. It can beat you down. Both kinds. There are times when I've felt like I've been walking the road for so long my metaphorical feet feel worn to the bone.

So why? What's the point, anyway?

I'm not here to answer that question, and not able to, anyway. At least not for anyone but myself, I don't think. All I know, though, is that when I focus on how many people came to my blog that day or how many Tumblr reblogs or Twitter favorites I got, I feel anxious and restless until it all feels pointless.

But you know what doesn't feel pointless? Watching the deleted scene from Sense and Sensibility fifteen times then fifteen more. Skyping with my family on the east coast. Disney music. Puppies, kitties, libraries, movie theaters. Making dinner for my dad during his layover visit. Sharing funny GIFS with my roommate. Helping input applications for a stressed out coworker. Smiling at the old man walking through the Bellagio atrium and getting a smile back.

What else never feels pointless? Praying. The tenor part in church hymns. Talking with my sister for half an hour about her boyfriend who thinks she lights up the world. Quoting Christmas movies. Putting on pajamas and finishing the last chapter of a really, really good book. Finishing the last chapter of your own book.

But why does that matter, the finishing of the last chapter? The writing and creating? How does it all tie in? I don't know about you, but after watching Sense and Sensibility, I feel like this lump of something hot and unpleasant and sharp has been expunged from me, and I feel grateful to Emma Thompson and everyone else for that. And it's not just about catharsis, or even escape. I've never had to walk to my own death, but I can feel good about the human race, and feel close to my own family, when Harry Potter brings back his mother and father to help him face Voldemort alone. I can start an hour long laugh-fest/philosophical discussion with my roommate based on a Disney movie GIF set that someone on Tumblr took the time to create.

And if we writers and artists can do that for any other human being--in a full length novel, short story or poem, in a 140 character tweet, in a joke on Tumblr or blog post about the latest episode of Supernatural--then that I think is what makes everything worthwhile.

That is why I write.

What matters most to you? And is that why you write?

Sarah Allen

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  1. You know everything is pointless to someone. I need to know EVERYTHING so very little is pointless to me. Sense and Sensibility rocks.

    Thanks for the links and the puppy video.

  2. I like what you listed as not pointless!
    Despite how many followers I have, it's not the number, it's those I connect with every week that matter.

  3. I'm like that at the moment. Am focusing far too much on pointless things instead of what really matters. It's so easy to slip into. I often have to remind myself of why I write. I explained to someone this morning that "my blog is mine and it is for me" thats why. But for some reason I forget if I suddenly have an influx of views etc.

  4. I adore watching that version of Sense & Sensibility - it's my go-to choice when I don't have five hours to watch the BBC Pride & Prejudice.

    I used to be so focused on numbers, but now I don't even know how many followers I have, or how many visit regularly.

  5. What a wonderful post, but the most... most important thing is not on the list. What about popcorn? :-)

    And Sense & Sensibility speaks to me too. It reminds me of how things have changed over the years and what things stay the same. The later amazes me.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette


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