This is a quote from one of my favorite authors, poets, and playwrights, the inspiring Maya Angelou, and it made me ask myself--Why do I write? Do I write to survive? Is my writing a lifebuoy that keeps me afloat and prevents me from drowning?
While it is true that I read an inordinate amount of survival books--both fiction and non-fiction and I enjoy writing stories where the main character is tested beyond normal limits, I've never thought that I write to survive.
Dictionary.com defines survival as "The act or fact of surviving (or continuing in existence), especially under adverse or unusual circumstances." However, I prefer to define it as continuing to live in spite of a tragedy, accident, or unfortunate circumstances.
There are numerous writers who must write to eat. Their lives, and sometimes the lives of their families, depend on the income generated from their writing. I may have been one of those years ago, but at this point of my life I am not one now. Then there are the writers who have an internal drive, whether emotionally or spiritually, to share their beliefs and desires. It is their "calling", and to stop writing would be the same as stopping their breathing. I am not one of these either. I actually prefer breathing. So what does Ms. Angelou's words mean to me?
Simply put, they mean everything I do now is based on how I have survived through life. As with most humans, my life has been contrary and favorable, accidental and contrived, hopeful and hateful, catastrophic and blessed. The ups and downs I have experienced have molded my character and my personality. And, they have molded my view of life which in effect has molded how I write. I don't write to survive, I survive to write. And, that is why I am drawn to writing stories with characters who survive against all odds and come out better for it. I believe every one who is faced with adversity needs to know there is someone--whether fictional or not--who has stubbornly refused to cave in when it seemed the odds were totally against them. What does Maya Angelou's words mean to you? Do you write to survive, or survive to write?