I make a living out of writing.
Recently, after nearly 20 years of making words my livelihood, I had to ask myself why I still write.
This self-reflection has come after a period of intense and irreversible changes have turned many writing forms into shadows of their former more powerful selves.
The days of long and thoughtful essays, encompassing several points of view about a subject, are fast drawing to a close.
People want shorter pieces, simpler language, fewer points and sometimes, bullet points instead of lines of text — signs of changing patterns of thinking.
So why do I write?
Several reasons immediately came to mind.
Wanting to put my thoughts on paper.
My livelihood and means of my survival.
Telling a story.
Leaving a legacy.
I still search for the perfect story. Since two years ago, that journey has been imbued with a greater urgency, thanks to events that forced me out of the shell that I used to call my life, and compelled me to face a new and more gritty reality.
At first, I thought of coming to terms with it through drink and an activity-filled schedule.
But I then realised that booze would lead to little more than empty calories and a belly, and what was the point of that?
Getting busy might make me feel fulfilled in the short term but I would only be running away from the issue, not confronting it and making sense of it.
So it stood to reason that writing would be the avenue to help me make sense of my new path and life.
I am blessed to have a small but close circle of friends.
Writing has helped me reconnect with friends I left behind and rebuild relationships that I turned my back on in the past.
As for legacy, there is a special someone I want to leave that for — my young niece.
I will in all probability live to see her grow into a lovely woman, get married and have children of her own.
But in case I don’t, I want her to who her uncle really is and was, and what he stands for.
I want her to know my favourite foods, what turns me on, what ticks me off, the books I love to read, the music I love to listen to…and the list goes on and on.
Most of all, I want to tell her that she is special and can be whoever she wants to be, as long as it is not immoral or illegal.
That God broke the mould after He made her.
That she is precious to me and her parents, grandparents and to the world in general.
So much I want to tell her, and so little time.
And that is perhaps the most important reason why I must write.
So the paragraphs, letters, articles and stories go on.
Soon the last paragraph, the last word, the last full stop will appear.
The fight, the struggles, and the raw energy of the chase will all end.
Were all the interviews, writing, rewriting, editing, proofreading, soul-searching and worry over the choices of the right words, worth it?
I think they were and I would do it all over again.
And after the stories have been written, and pages arranged, then and only then will the compilation be complete.
Then I see myself in my comfortable chair imbibing a life-giving liquor with the calm and presence of someone who has gone through all of this a hundred times before.
But until then, I will swallow my pride and ego and write.
For I cannot do otherwise.
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