If, writing is already part of the grand purpose in your life, then you are one lucky writer. You have learnt the lesson that writing is more than a hobby; you know that it's bigger and more important, more vital, than just moving a pen across a sheet of paper or typing out a random series of letters (with the possible exception, of course, of Jack Kerouac who proselytized the value of purposeless writing... and produced the kind of prose which people either love or condemn; Truman Capote famously commented that 'That's not writing, it's typing.')
George Orwell was a big believer in writing being purposeful. In his 1946 essay 'Why I Write', he identified four main purposes for writing:
- sheer egoism;
- aesthetic enthusiasm;
- historical impulse;
- political purpose.
But, frivolity aside, writing does have a serious purpose to my life. It is more than a hobby. I don't write because I want to be famous. I'm not sure that I write because I want people to read my book with bated breath and admiration. I write because it is vital to me. The story of my novel has me in its thrall and the demons need to be exorcised. When I write, I am a better person. Part of me, which would otherwise languish neglected in some unrecognized part of my life, has been fed. As Jeanette Winterson says, 'Creativity is on the side of health - it isn't the thing that drives us mad; it is the capacity in us that tries to save us from madness.' And that is the purpose I need.