Story Engineering contains some of the best stuff I’ve ever read about crafting a novel. It’s practical advice that’s directly applicable to one’s writing, presented in a matter that is neither straight-jacketed by process nor clouded with vagaries.
That’s not the stuff I want to share, though. At least not this week. I want to give you some of the inspirational language from near the book’s end, in Brooks’s thoughts about why we write.
“If you are a writer–and you are if you actually write—you are already living the dream. Because the primary reward of writing comes from within, and you don’t need to get published or sell your screenplay to access it.”
Confirmation! Those who visit this site on a semi-regular basis (both of you) have heard me say similar things before. Writing is its own reward, even according to somebody who actually knows what they’re doing!
“The inner reward is the gift of life itself. Writers are scribes of the human experience. To write about life we must see it and feel it, and in a way that eludes most. We are not better people in any way—read the biographies of great writers and this becomes crystal clear—but we are alive in a way that other are not. We are all about meaning. About subtext. We notice what others don’t. If the purpose of the human experience is to immerse ourselves in growth and enlightenment, moving closer and closer to whatever spiritual truth you seek—hopefully have a few laughs and a few tears along the way—wearing the nametag of a writer makes that experience more vivid. We’re hands-on with life, and in the process of committing our observations to the page we add value to it for others.”
If that’s not a top-notch assessment of writing’s true rewards, I don’t know what is. We only get one life (even if you believe in reincarnation, you only get this life once) and as writers we get to create a richer experience of it for ourselves and, with skill and luck, for others. If you ask me, it doesn’t get any better than that.