So why write? With all those reasons not to, why devote time to a practice which is not currently paying any of the stacked-up bills?
"I feel something kicking," is surely not a strong enough reason, unless that something is a Holy Something, but who can say for certain about that?
Last month I was skyping with my youngest brother, David. When I left home for college, he was only five years old. We've barely lived together, but we're siblings, anyone can tell.
David was making beef jerky as we skyped, dipping strips of red flank steak into a simmering marinade, then lying them flat to dry for hours in a barely warm oven. I asked him about it, if his meat was grass-fed or grain-fed, if he had done it before.
"It's my first time," he said. "I might not do it all right, but I'm taking your advice. I'm playing at it."
My baby brother reads what I write, and he might be able to avoid some of my mistakes because of it. That in itself might be enough reason to write.
A year ago, I wrote about my struggle with turning thirty, how I hadn't fulfilled the ambitions of my childhood, but instead spent my days changing diapers in the rural midwest. A woman I barely know emailed me, and said she was blessed. That's a reason.
People I know have called me "a good writer" for years, but you never can trust people you know. They're biased, clearly. Last week, though, an editor emailed me out of the blue. He called my voice "literate and literary w/o being overly academic; tackling pop culture in a "serious," Christian way; and reflecting on life and motherhood, with a sense of humor." And he doesn't know me.
I have a voice.
This all helps, but none of it really gets to the heart.
I must write for my soul's health. When I write, I process my life. I figure out what I believe. I see how God is at work. I pray. When I don't write, very little of any of those things happens.
So I will follow the advice that I heard over and over again at the Festival of Faith and Writing. I will pay attention to my life through writing. I will love the world, and question it; love my craft, and offer a possible answer. I will follow my dread, and avoid the "stumbling block of humility." I will write as a way to come to the altar and die.
What discipline is essential to your soul's health?