Sunday Snippet: John Steinbeck

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”

I suppose it’s not terribly surprising that I am oftentimes drawn to quotes by writers about writing, given that I make my living as a freelance writer myself. How meta. Language is an incredibly powerful tool that can move armies and document the human experience. Sure, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but carefully crafted words can be worth thousands of pictures too.

John Steinbeck was a 20th century American author and I’ve featured him before in an earlier Sunday Snippe. At the time, we discussed how we can only really understand a concept when we gain an appreciation for its opposite. There is no light without dark and there is no joy without pain. And good writing can really capture that complex relationship, opening itself to interpretation by each individual reader.

The profession of writing, in the grand scheme of things, is not all that different from many other careers. In order to be great at it, you must be dedicated, you must be focused, and you must persevere through hardship. You have to convince yourself that what you are doing is greater than yourself. Its impact and importance extend well beyond the lines on a page.

I like to think that my writing matters. I like to think that it motivates, inspires and informs. I like to think that this blog and my book will be remembered and cherished for generations to come. I like to think that my writing is my legacy and that is part what motivates me to do what I do.

But I also recognize that, as a humble freelance writer with an admittedly modest blog, it’s delusional to think that what I do is the most important thing in the world. There are people out there who are curing major diseases and inventing paradigm-shifting technology. But I persevere. I continue to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), because writing matters… regardless of whether you think yourself a mouse or a man.