Isaac Asimov wrote almost 500 books before he passed on at 72. He wrote his third hundred books in only 69 months. That’s an average of 16 books a year:
“Writing is more fun than ever. The longer I write, the easier it gets.” — Isaac Asimov
I write a lot, more than the average person I would imagine. I went from publishing every Sunday, to writing my transitionary thoughts on my blog in between the remaining six days. I write so much, that a friend who used to read every piece I’ve written, told me she couldn’t keep up with me anymore.
It used to bother me a lot more, whether I was publishing too frequently. I didn’t want to dilute the messages that were important for me to carry. Sometimes I want to publish more personal, casual pieces, like my terrible poetry or prose, but I was worried if they would impact the ones that mattered more — such as this piece on solving first world problems or the piece I wrote yesterday on race, power and shaping the future.
Something shifted in me last week, it cumulated everything that happened to me this year.
For every piece I was not writing because I was writing too much, because there is always “next week”, I am taking for granted my mortality and my capacity to create.
The act of creation, is a privilege. To create, requires life, physical health, the co-ordination of our psyche and nervous system, relative financial stability, time, space, a lifetime of learning and consumption, previous generations of creators, the lives of our ancestors.
“For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice” — Virginia Woolf, A room of one’s own
There are pieces I have written that demonstrated a good amount of resonance with the audience. Resonance with strung words, is one of the most intimate connections we can have with strangers. It still brings me great joy and serves as a powerful motivation for my writing.
Other pieces however, feels like they get thrown into a wall of eternal silence. I have been tortured by self-doubt — if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
But here’s the question I ask in return. Would I still write, if nobody is reading? Will you still do the work you do, if nothing gets seen? Will you still take the pictures you take, if nobody likes it on Instagram?
Vivian Maier didn’t even bother to develop most of her film. Van Gogh continued painting — 2,100 artworks, no less — among countless of others who carried on creating despite not being seen in their lifetimes.
They had to.
I write, because I have to. I want to stand for my thoughts and opinions, no matter how radical they may seem. I want to contribute to the discourse of this world, not to remain in fearful silence and wonder why the world hasn’t gotten better. I want to publish my terrible poetry, among all the other bits I write, because I want to exist as a human being, not just by the virtue of what I do in my professional life or by the political beliefs I hold. What matters is not whether I’m remembered currently or posthumously, but whether I’ve done my best to exist in my lifetime. I want to exist as fully as possible, even if I’m the only one who sees it.
I will keep on writing more, because an estimated 13,000 days left of my life isn’t really a whole lot, even if I wrote everyday for the rest of my life.
13,000, if I’m lucky.
“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.” — Virginia Woolf, A room of one’s own