Why Read? Why Write?

Why Read? Why Write? | From the Editor

I’m scared of needles.

Not fainting-from-fear scared, but definitely unjustified anxiety scared. See, I know perfectly well that it’s only a little stick, not really all that much pain, but when I’m sitting in a doctor’s office or wherever, and a needle is on its way to my skin, that needle seems to get bigger and bigger in my mind until I’m convinced I’m about to be boiled alive.

The reason I’m telling you this is so that you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I say I went to give blood today.

It wasn’t my first time, and blood donation is a real service upon which many lives depend. For those able to do it, it’s an important thing to do. And it’s not difficult, or really all that unpleasant, no matter what my imagination may tell me ahead of time. So I made an appointment, grabbed my book, and headed down to the blood bank. 

The book—I was reading the memoir of Ulysses S. Grant. This will become relevant in a moment. Grant, as you may recall, was an important Civil War general, later president, and surprisingly popular North and South. His memoir, considered one of the best books of its kind, is a quiet triumph. In the preface, he comments “I would have more hope of satisfying the expectation of the public if I could have allowed myself more time.” Why was his time short? Because he was dying. He had cancer and passed away just days after finishing his book. It was his last campaign, and he won.

So I walked into the blood bank, filled out the medical forms, and then went into the little room where they check blood pressure and hemoglobin.

Testing hemoglobin level requires a pinprick.

And for some reason, this pinprick scared me. Like, really scared me! For a few seconds, I seriously considered chickening out of the whole thing, running away, and not donating today.

But how could I run away from a stupid little pin prick with Grant’s book in my hands? The presence of that book—that reminder of all the things Grant did–just made it obvious to me how small and how silly my fear was in comparison to all the real threats and true struggles being faced every day by so many people across the world. I couldn’t run.

As it turned out, my hemoglobin was too low, so I couldn’t donate after all. I’ll have to reschedule. But I tell this tale as an example of why it’s important to read—and to write.  Because you never know whose words are going to end up being significant, which story is going to be exactly what you need, or what someone else needs, to hear in order to get through a challenge, maybe even a challenge that seems to have nothing to do with the writing.

Me, I take my inspiration where I can get it.

This article by Caroline Ailanthus, our editor, exists to inspire — maybe inspire you to write.

But writing is work you say (Caroline said so!). Yes, but it can provide so many benefits. The best work after all is work that doesn’t feel like work. We’d love to help you achieve that feeling. Create. Create a blog, a podcast, a book, or a video. We’ll help you. Reach out to us here.

And in the meantime, here’s a podcast episode featuring Caroline, giving you permission to write badly.

And here’s a short podcast episode on how writing is cathartic.