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However much of the content is different-
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I want to do something different with you today in the wake of the death of a personal hero of mine, Stan Lee- I want to talk to you about the importance of writing and why you should write despite the overwhelming pressures against you, or even despite not actually wanting to have a career in writing.
First, I want to say that I know writing is difficult. I know this from spending more time than I’d care to admit crying in front of a blank page- or looking at my bank account with a fear of the big red numbers. I hope that by the end of this, those of you who are already writers will feel inspired to keep working at your craft- and that those who wouldn’t be writers feel inspired to put their thoughts to paper.
You see, we are tiny. Many of us find that depressing. I’ll admit it is humbling to know that we may die and be completely forgotten- we who are so public, we who give a record of our existence and scream at the top of our lungs to be known. But in the end, everyone shares the same fate. The greatest and the worst among us lose their place in our collective memory with each generation. The “evils” of Attila and the wondrous discoveries of Brahmagupta may always impact us- but these names are even now known by a select few. The memories we have of Elvis and George Clooney are passing fads. Even Tolkien and Stephen King’s days are numbered.
I want you to think about that for a few seconds, go on, take in the fact that you are surrounded by so many people you will never know- people with thoughts, emotions, stories. Valuable people who contribute to this world’s functions and malfunctions are as prominent in your life as invaluable people lost in a sea of nothingness. They will not be remembered. You will not be remembered. I, too will be forgotten.
Some of us are terrified of that. Those people can do great and terrible things in the name of being remembered. Others hold that fear until they become unrememberable, they fear so much that they never move.
I believe we are better than that. I believe that we have no need to restrain ourselves because we want to be remembered- because we want recognition. Recognition is meaningless. Being forgotten is inevitable. That means it is up to us to find our own strengths and create our own purpose. That is not horrible, but liberating. We are free to help the world, to experience the good life– to grow and adapt to what we see around us.
This is why I want you to write. I want you to write because the written word is the very soul of humanity. We evolved to think- yes, but our thoughts must be passed on, our species has a story to tell and it it up to you to tell it. Writing is the only human invention that describes what we actually are- the only invention that can truly change minds, that can link one person to another after death. Writing is a key to a sort of immortality. Those writers who died- prove their existence by way of word, by way of working thoughts. It is the language of the dead that we say “We the People”. It is through the river Styx that we know the words of Socrates, Melville, or Twain.
But most importantly, writing is the tool we use to further expand and evaluate our condition. The mind that has learned to write has learned to think. It formulates ideas and then through writing understands them and through editing realizes their potential. That mind then gives those ideas to other minds who create their own ideas and gradually the human condition is radically altered by the passing of the written word.
Our mind values the power of stories. It treats them like they are reality, it uses them to evaluate its own conditions. It is for this reason we are able to comprehend the vastness of our universe. It is for this reason that we- tiny grains of sand in a multitudinous world, are each as Carl Sagan said “…a way for the cosmos to know itself..”
That is more power than we deserve. We who are so willing to throw away our consciousness with frivolity. But we do have that power, we are capable of empathy and growth. We share our thoughts and ideas, and we communicate them to better our world.
Many of us are new to this. We could be sixty year-olds who’ve never written more than a report, or just kids who’ve found comfort in Harry Potter. If that is you I want you to know, that you are not alone.
You are at a pivotal moment in your life. At this time you are learning how to write, how to create in humanity’s greatest and most ancient of inventions. The art of storytelling is what links us to all of humanity eternally. And now, now is our time to shine. Today the internet is filled with writers. Legions of us create a leviathan waiting in scripts. We are at our revolution in words, in the greatest time to be alive- a burst of human creativity.
You may think that you are small, that no one will read what you have to say. But more people read now than have ever before in human history. We read every time we grab our phones or our computers. We are the first generation of readers. That is a damn good reason for why you should write.
It doesn’t matter if you are like me- someone who has devoted themselves to human language, or if you are a chemical engineer who’s only written articles on their research. Each of us has a story to tell, and each of us can change the world for someone, be it through the telling of our story, or the actions we make in life. Push yourself to fight the oppressiveness of reality. Fight back against the truth that we, each of us, will be forgotten. Because it is not our memories that we should worry about, but the fate of our children that matters. Push your story, and convince someone to take a new role in their life, convince a child to become a scientist, or another child that domestic abuse is evil.
Writers have the power of influence, a power we can only wield if we never give up. Influence is better than being remembered, influence is what breeds improvement in our collective society over time. Think of the words of Carl Marx, of Thomas Paine, or of Confucius. These few have through words alone more influence over the world than any dictator ever has. Through the power of their words entire societies have changed and created core values that they live by and honor. It is besides the point that their words have lead to the deaths of millions, or that their ideas were flawed. What matters is that words inspire action. And you, the writers, are the masters of words.
So don’t you dare give up- don’t you ever give in. I want to hear your barbaric YAWP, I want my life to be changed by what you have to say. I want to see you think, and I want to see your thoughts change the fate of the human condition. Remember that one person can make a difference.
Each week I want to ask a book recommendation question, so please in the comments below tell me what book, author, or series changed your worldview.
Thanks for reading, and keep writing my friends!
Here are some of the books that went into making this post. Every purchase helps me continue creating for you and improve my content. But I understand that times are tough, so at the very least, if you think I’m worth the merit, please share it!