Rethinking my writing career

I’ve been on hiatus since the birth of our third child, but honestly my desire to write had cooled long before that.

What motivated me to write opinion pieces was my search for fundamental truths that could help me – and maybe others – make sense of reality and find some solace or comfort in the bigger picture.

But over time I realised that the purpose of existence was not a return to the path designated by immutable ethical principles. Once we admit that divine providence is in command, we have to admit that “evil” is part of the plan and embrace agnosticism toward the relative trajectory of other people’s lives.

The best I can do is look to my own well-being in this moment, and the thoughts and subjects to which my well-being is most responsive.

At this juncture, those of a moralist or ethical bent will worry what might happen if everyone focuses exclusively on their own well-being, and what might go wrong if everyone freely defines well-being for themselves. They might fear that I am advocating hedonism or egoism, and denying our ability to discriminate between good and evil actions.

But I am not advocating that others desist from ethical or moralist theory and education. It is up to the individual to decide whether ethics and moralism (and of which sorts) are subjects that are conducive to their own well-being. All I can say is that they are not so for me.

And for me to worry about anything – let alone societal ethical and moral standards – is not conducive to my well-being.

So why write anymore?

Having determined that I can only really speak for myself and my own well-being, my enthusiasm for writing has waned. I use writing as a tool to flesh out nascent thoughts and elaborate on ideas and principles, but I don’t expect my writing to be of wider value or appeal anymore.

How would I know what you would or should want to read? I don’t.

Not long after I arrived at these conclusions on an objective, theoretical level, I also became aware that my own personal search for truth and meaning was profoundly private and idiosyncratic in its origins and underlying motive.

My search for answers originated in the very unusual “questions” posed by the deeply dysfunctional environment in which I grew up. Universal answers proved insufficient or inappropriate for my circumstances; and the answers I needed are too individual and particular to be of value to a broader audience.

With all this in mind, I have very little left to say, and therefore little left to write. I remember writing prolifically at times and being published regularly, and sometimes I have an impulse to comment or contribute an opinion on a topical issue.

But if my answers don’t align with other people’s questions, what is the point? If I am not providing value to others then only the value to myself matters and the fact is that I no longer feel satisfaction or pleasure in writing like that.

And perhaps this is the ideal end. The whole point of asking questions is to find answers, and I found the answers I was looking for. I never wanted to be a career writer who churns out content for entertainment or sensation, but that seems like the only way I could have continued beyond the life of my own private search.

And there is a comfort and solace in realising that no one needs my input, I was not put on this earth to do research for other people or provide them value or insight or verbal entertainment. All I need to do – and “need” is too strong a word – is to find the thoughts and subjects most conducive to my well-being. That is the secret to a happy life.

One thought on “Rethinking my writing career

  1. “At this juncture, those of a moralist or ethical bent will worry what might happen if everyone focuses exclusively on their own well-being, and what might go wrong if everyone freely defines well-being for themselves.”
    “From now on I’m thinking only of me.”
    Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: “But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way.”
    “Then,” said Yossarian, “I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn’t I?”
    — Joseph Heller, ‘Catch-22’
    For you, writing scratched an itch. If you don’t itch, don’t scratch. Do something else. If you get itchy again, writing will still be there.

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