10 May

I mention The Rag Tree occasionally and send you its way. I love the author’s intelligence and humour. The question he asks is one that has probably appeared before us all in one way or another. I like having the possibilities laid out for me to consider.

The Rag Tree


This is the fact: you could be long dead before people appreciate your writing. It’s happened plenty to writers of the first rank: jealousy, stupidity, war–in other words, plain old politics–obscured their talent and contributions. So, if fame and fortune are hard to find, just why are you writing?

From personal experience, RT can tell you that this is not a popular question at cocktail parties. Even less popular is quoting the Elements of Style: Writing is an act of faith. To help you (and me) answer this little demon of a question, here are some answers:

1) I have to write. To confirm the truth of this motivation, go to a new or small poetry reading. Chances are you’re not going to meet successful people there. Folks are doing OK; they’re getting by; they’re dealing with their issues–but nobody owns a BMW.

2) I’m in love with…

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Posted by on 10/05/2012 in links, writing


9 responses to “

  1. JulesPaige

    10/05/2012 at 7:57 am

    Interesting question to be considered with some depth…I suppose. But personally…for me writing is like breathing…if I couldn’t – I wouldn’t (be).

    Be back to investigate others and perhaps add, but surely to finish reading The Rag Tree article. Full day of Son of Son starting an about an hour…

    • margo roby

      10/05/2012 at 9:41 am

      Good luck with your day, Jules.

      Nah. No reason to consider it in depth, but wander around Eric’s site, if you haven’t before. He has diverse interests.

  2. Misky

    10/05/2012 at 9:24 am

    That question ranks right up there on the annoying scale with being asked to explain why you’re staying home to raise children. On a good day, I’d be polite and answer properly. On a bad day, I’d say “I don’t know. Are you offering me a job?”

    • margo roby

      10/05/2012 at 9:40 am

      I agree, Misk. I am fascinated that people who don’t write don’t quite get people who do, yet have been surrounded by the products of writers all their lives.

  3. Mr. Walker

    10/05/2012 at 9:48 am

    Margo, thanks for reblogging this. I liked it and I will be back to the Rag Tree. Personally, I like answer number 5: what I do matters.


    • margo roby

      10/05/2012 at 9:51 am

      Richard, I think number 5 is it for serious writers. I think over all the authors whose works I have taught and I know that is why they wrote [and because they felt compelled].

      I think you will thoroughly enjoy Eric’s diverse collection of thinking. Check out his Dragons of Grammar. He is also translating Gilgamesh.


    • JulesPaige

      10/05/2012 at 6:26 pm

      Yes, Richard I agree, what I do matters…even if it is just to one person. If only one person has enjoyed something I wrote – even if and I suppose especially if that one person wasn’t me – then it was worth the time to write it!

  4. Music&Meaning

    13/06/2012 at 1:39 pm

    Margo: sorry for the tardy response to your repost…things continue to be intense here…but surely there is nothing better than this kind of affirmation…thx! Eric

    • Music&Meaning

      13/06/2012 at 1:40 pm

      & ps: i’ve posted about WG on my blog…by way of returning the compliment eric


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