If The World Stopped Reading I Would Still Be Writing

Waterfall in the Rosenlaui ravine (Switzerland...
Waterfall in the Rosenlaui ravine (Switzerland) Français : Une cascade dans le ravin de Rosenlaui, en Suisse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hear many authors complain of time constraints, low income from books, isolation from a workplace or other people, writer’s block and many other issues and, while I understand these, I also want to scratch my head and ask whether writing is the best use of their time. Writing IS hard and it IS time consuming but here’s the truth: If the world stopped reading I would still be writing.

If people no longer read books, my fingers would continue to hover over the keyboard each morning in quiet anticipation, waiting to tap out new sentences and create different worlds. I wrote travel diaries and poetry long before I began to write my first novel. I didn’t write for people to read these, and I hope they never will, I wrote for my own pleasure.

I love writing. My mind is constantly churning over ideas, my eyes and ears observing the small details of each day, absorbing conversations and snatched moments of intimacy between other people: a hand on a shoulder, a kind expression, an angry response. All of life and its rich experiences feed into my subconscious to be unearthed when required.

I store up a bank of thoughts and ideas continually. They may come from a painting or a rock concert, a quiet conversation or a crowded street, a film or from the strings of a violin in an orchestra, an early sunrise or a pain-filled conversation. These experiences shape me but they also shape my writing. We are influenced by what we read but much more so by first-hand experiences. Much of my writing has been fueled by travel to foreign lands and I currently live abroad. The richness of different cultures has expanded my vision of life and people. My words are fueled by the relationships I have and by the chance encounters and words from the lips of strangers.

I need to write because it is how I find meaning in life. It helps me to communicate on a much deeper level than any spoken word. I love the nature and impact of words and the way sentences can repel and attract; reel a reader in and push them back. I get a thrill from the details of a scene or from a wild response from a character. I inhabit the minds of other characters with the buzz of a homicide detective close to finding the perpetrator of a crime. I feel the emotions of injustice, loss, elation, fear and longing, all through the mind of a fictional character placed in an unstable situation.

The ability to change a person’s mind or to open them up to a new world or a new thought is unmatched, other than through a work of fiction. I know that there can be dry periods and difficulties with a plot or in editing a manuscript, but these are my overriding thoughts on the craft of putting words to paper. I understand that there are times when you want to give up or if you wonder what you are doing or whether the path will lead you into brambles or into a deep ravine. This is often temporary and it is important for me to focus on the positives and on the reasons for writing in the first instance. The privilege of hearing a reader say that they loved your story and couldn’t put the book down is wonderful, but the truth is, even without it I would keep writing.


  1. valhari says:

    Having just got my degree in July,I wondered, what next? Friends said relax, have a break. So I did. Now I cannot get back into writing. I have my novel to finish. I have my blog to bring up to date. I have short stories to redo for sending out.
    Your piece has given me the push I needed. I know I could never stop writing altogether, I love it. Just now and again I have a blip.But I know I will get back into it.



    1. fcmalby says:

      Great to hear that you feel inspired! It’s difficult to get back in to writing, I know, but keep going. The break will hopefully have recharged the creative juices. Good luck.


  2. Letizia says:

    What a beautiful piece. I love the idea that you store up ideas. And I love the title of this post too!


    1. fcmalby says:

      Thank you. It’s difficult not to store up ideas. There is so much to take in every day: small details and big conversations. The title sums it up really. Thanks for your comments and for the follow. Your blog looks really interesting.


  3. A wonderful ode to writing!


    1. fcmalby says:

      Thank you, Gabriela. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thanks so much for sharing on twitter.


  4. Absolutely! Writing isn’t easy, but we do it for the love. If someone isn’t doing it for the love, they should move on.


    1. fcmalby says:

      You have to want to write for the writing itself. I never intended to write a book but have met so many people who say they want to write a book and I wonder what stops them. I think the idea of it is very different to the actual craft of writing.


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