This article is by Craig Robertson.
If I write something and not many people read it, am I wasting my time? This is an important question and I think most creators ask it, be they authors, musicians, dancers, or painters.
I write speculative fiction – time travel, mythic figures, spoofs on genres – that type of thing. Moreover, I write fiction which is not mainstream. I pound away for hours at my stories and my podcasts and my blogs. I think they are all perfectly wonderful. But, come on now, we all know people who think their FLK’s (medical for ‘funny looking kid’ – honest to goodness) are soooo beautiful. In point of fact, the child is so peculiar looking, and acting, that you are glad you are not the parent. Many might advise, for example, that if my writing efforts are not very successful maybe I could better spend my time doing something else – you know, something productive, useful, not a complete waste of my time.
Ask a thorny question and I will give you a thornless answer. Some people, I would remind the gentle reader, go fishing. The fellow buys a boat and amasses a bunch of ‘stuff’, then haul all their crap to Lake Whoknowswhere every weekend. There he will sit in the rain, being eaten by bugs, for what? He catches a fish, perchance some fish. But wait, I can drive 10 minutes to the market and buy a (reasonably) fresh trout – whole, filleted, or smoked. So, is the fisherman wasting his time?
Another example. I love my San Francisco Giants. I have been a devoted fan since 1960. If I sit for 3 hours watching the full game on TV or at the park, what have I tangibly gained the next morning? Be I thrilled or distraught, pleased or heart-broken, am I a better, richer, or more complete person for my investment of time?
My hobby, let us call it for now – until I make the NY Times List – is writing speculative fiction. I am a physician by trade, specifically an Adult Medicine specialist. On my lunch hour, I will often open my laptop and work on my latest opus. A passersby will see me typing and ask why I’m charting instead of relaxing. No, I will tell them as my shoulders wince, knowing what’s to come, that I’m working on my science fiction novel. Then I receive the bemusement and a remark like, “So, you have an agent and a publisher and I can buy your books at Barnes & Noble?” After dying a little inside, I inform them that no, that is not exactly the case. I reveal, as my head drops to half-mast, that I am instead self-published and can be found on my website or on Amazon. Sometimes tactfully, most times not, the individual will issue a remark that I am some form of silly, that my efforts are misdirected, or worse yet, they simply change their look from stunned-bemusement to smug-bemusement and walk-on.
Well, necessity being as she is the mother of invention, I have come-up with a come-back, a justification, what in distant times was called an “apologia” for my writing. Now, before the acquaintance can exit my office to begin spreading the word that Robertson thinks he’s Ernest Hemingway, I tell them what I am doing is nothing more than “my knitting.”
Here’s what I mean. Millions of people knit. Now, at least here in the US, no one needs knitted products. Come-on, let’s be honest here. What percentage of home crafters of any ilk fabricate quality products sought after by others? Do you personally wake each day hoping to acquire additional knitted clothing from some elderly friend? I rather doubt it. Most knitters gift their knitting upon completing the item gratis. They do so because:
- They must get rid of it. That stuff can really accumulate if one is not very proactive.
- No one in their right mind, the knitter knows from bitter experience, will purchase the objects.
- The fabricator is driven by a deep-seeded longing to help others. They wish to make the lot of souls they may casually encounter better. This is a good instinct, though in the present context, delusional.
But always remember that what the knitter gains is nothing short of miraculous. They are able to be counted among those who are creative – an artisan more than an artist, yes, but they’re in that lofty category for certain. The knitter is fulfilled, both by the act of creating and the act of giving. They have, in a tangible manner, been able to reach out and touch someone else, ostensibly changing the recipient’s life towards the positive. What a wonderful thing it is, I submit to you, to be a knitter! We should all be so lucky.
Studies have shown that the rhythmic repetitive act of manipulating the yarn is therapeutic. Who does not wish to be healthy? The benefits of knitting include improved joint function, a sharper mind, decreased stress, and dopamine levels which should be controlled by the FDA. The farsighted governments around the globe should require all humans over the age of 5 to knit daily.
So, my friends, back to my point – and yes, I do have one. Some healthy, striving, gifted individuals knit. I write speculative fiction. I write it the best I can, and hence can claim truthfully to be an author. I mostly give my work away for free, so I am further a giver. Writing is my knitting. Rhythmic repetitive movements, an active brain, decreased idle time – why it’s meditation in its most concentrated form. I change my assertion. People everywhere should be mandated to either knit or to write speculative fiction. Yes, that’s the ticket. A healthier, happier world in which peace and harmony will abound. It’s Bill and Ted all over again!
So this is why I keep writing. What about you? If you are not published, why do you still write?
About the Author:
Craig Robertson is a physician in Northern California. He has three speculative fiction novels available on Amazon, and is working on his fourth book in the same genre. In addition to writing, Craig also podcasts his stories and contributes to an astronomy podcast. More information and pertinent links can be found on his blog, myfavoriteauthor-craig.blogspot.com, or on his webpage, www.myfavoriteauthor.net.