Monday, February 06, 2006

Why do you write?

If you're like me, there are several answers to that question. I write as a form of exorcism, erasing demons from my soul as I add them to the page. I write to exercise my mind, and because I love the language. I write because it is my art. I write to express my thoughts. I write because I must.

Mostly, I write to be read.

There are as many reasons to be journalist as there are to be a writer, but my reason is: to write. It is the writing I love, more than the adventure, more than the doors journalism opens, more than the insider's view of politics and big business. I love to write, and the paper pays me to write, every day. Even better, I get read. I love to be read. It's a big part of why I blog. When you comment, I know someone is reading, and I love to be read.

Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I just got off the phone with Stetson Kennedy, the famed author and champion of social justice. He called to tell me that he had read, and enjoyed, both my article about An Evening With Stetson Kennedy, and my Opinion piece about his treatment at the hands of the authors of Freakonomics.

"Mark, I enjoyed your writing. It was more than just good writing, it was good thinking." Those were his exact words. He continued, "I'm going to send copies to all the members on the board of my foundation."

Now, I'm admittedly a little star-struck by Stetson Kennedy. He was the kind of journalist I only dream of being, a man of remarkable courage who stood up for what was right, and risked his life to expose evil. Knowing he read my writing - and liked it - is very gratifying.

What makes it even more gratifying is the list of names I have in front of me - the people sitting on the advisory board of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation.

Julian Bond
Daniel Botkin
Peggy A. Bulger, PhD
Hodding Carter, III, Esq
Morris S. Dees, Jr., Esq
William R. Ferris, PhD
Ben Goldhirsch
Arlo Gurthrie
Stephen F. Hanlon
David Isay
Katherine Burton Jones
Sir Walter Lindal
Anna Lomax
John Marshall
Studs Terkel
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Dr. Cornel West
Ma Vynee Betsch ("The Beach Lady" died in October)

They are going to read my words. Mine.

I'm going to be hard to live with for the next few days.

Mark Pettus,
Monday, February 06, 2006

19 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Moni, Anonymous Spicy Cauldron, Blogger Rob Gregory Browne, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Erik Ivan James, Blogger Amie Stuart, Blogger Shesawriter, Blogger Jeff, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger anne frasier, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Frank Baron, Blogger Kelly Parra, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger September, Anonymous Caryn, Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins, Blogger Mayden's Voyage, Blogger Mark Pettus,

Let me know what you think

Leave a comment


at 8:47 PM Blogger Moni said...

Wow! Mark that is so impressive and I am proud of you. You must be flying high right about now, I know I would be. Keep up the good work.

Why do I write? You're probably referring to the real writers on your blog. Ha!, but I'll bite. Hmmm? I wouldn't call myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination. I just jot down lyrics from time to time. I like being part of the creative process. I like to contribute to something and see it come to fruition. It makes me feel good to share a bit of myself and have others add to it to create something lasting. I'm not very good at it, but I write songs for myself and if others like them, then it makes my day. Boy, that sounded so hokey. :P

btw--I like the new look. ;)

at 5:18 AM Anonymous Spicy Cauldron said...

Well done! So pleased for you. I write because I have to, because I want to, because I need to, because I want to be read and to connect to others.

I was tagged this week to answer some questions on my blog and now I'm tagging you! Go to the post 'The power of four' on my blog to get the questions you need to answer... x

at 5:18 AM Blogger Rob Gregory Browne said...

That's good news, Mark. That's a pretty heady list of readers you have there. Congratulations.

at 10:56 AM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Moni - Thank you. I'm a bit full of myself most of the time, but at times like this, I'm insufferable.

Real writers? You are a real writer. Writers are people who write, and you do. Bloggers are writers, reporters are writers, I'd even say that a 13 year old who keeps a diary hidden under her pillow is a writer. Our reasons for writing vary, but never feel like you are unworthy because what you write doesn't match someone else's ideal.

Rob - Thanks. I apologize if I've been blowing my own horn a bit much lately. I'm as excited as a kid who just won a blue ribbon at the state fair - I've spent a lot of nights sleeping in the barn, and now it's starting to pay off.

Spicy - your comment shows up in the pop-up, but not on the page, so I'm pasting it here:

Spicy Cauldron said...
Well done! So pleased for you. I write because I have to, because I want to, because I need to, because I want to be read and to connect to others.

I was tagged this week to answer some questions on my blog and now I'm tagging you! Go to the post 'The power of four' on my blog to get the questions you need to answer... x

5:18 AM

I remember that meme. Let me see what I can come up with.

at 1:35 PM Blogger Erik Ivan James said...

Congratulations on reaching the point in your career where you have earned the right to blow your own horn a bit.

at 1:57 PM Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Keep talkin' honey cuz I'm listening. I need those words of wisdom =)

And congrats. i doubt you could ever be hard to live with!

at 2:49 PM Blogger Shesawriter said...

Oh, Mark, this is wonderful news! Congratulations. You deserve to strut and crow. You go guy! :-)


at 7:24 PM Blogger Jeff said...

Why do you write?

Mark, I asked this same question back in October on my blog and got some interesting responses. What I didn't do was give the reasons I write. For me, I think it's the desire to be creative. When I get an idea for a story in my mind it's like I can't NOT write it. I enjoy watching the story unfold in my mind and then transcribing it on paper.
There are so many talented writers. I feel like a very small fish in a very large pond. Like you, I want others to read and enjoy what I write. Hopefully if I work real hard, one day I'll be lucky enough to be published.

btw- Let me add my congratulations. :)

at 9:56 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Erik - Not sure I've earned the right, but I appreciate the sentiment,and hope you folks like John Phillips Souza...

Cece - There are so many ways to answer you, and none of them will keep me out of trouble except this one: Thanks. :)

Tanya - Not the first time I've been accused of acting like a banty rooster. ;) Thank you.

Jeff - small fish...large pond - I share those feelings. The blogosphere is a humbling place because it makes enormously talented people accessible. I'm amazed by what I've read (your stuff included).

It's a good thing I'm naturally arrogant, or I'd be so intimidated...

at 10:02 PM Blogger anne frasier said...

very, very cool, mark. :)

sometimes i'm not sure why i write. i think i have to, even though writing sometimes makes me miserable. and when i say have to, i don't mean because i need to make a living -- which is also true and writing is really all i know how to do. although i used to tend bar.

at 10:22 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

I'm reminded suddenly of a Billy Joel Song. I'm not sure why.

Now Anne at the bar is a friend of mine. She gets me my drinks for free... Wasn't there a line about a real estate novelist who never had time for a wife?

da da da de de da
da da de de da da da

at 12:21 PM Blogger Frank Baron said...

Congrats Mark! That's heady stuff.

at 2:23 PM Blogger Kelly Parra said...

Congrats on that wondeful feedback from a man you admire. Great new look--very stylish. =)

at 7:17 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Thanks Frank and Kelly.

at 12:44 AM Blogger September said...

I'm smiling big time just reading that.
- good for you & congratulations!
What wonderful words to hear. I would be replaying them over and over in my head all night.

at 2:40 PM Anonymous Caryn said...

That's incredible, Mark! Congratulations. No wonder you're thrilled.

I feel the same way about writing--I like to have my work read. And I love to get comments on it. It shouldn't mean so much to me, but it does. I think because it's my contribution to the world, and I want it to be noticed and appreciated.

Oh, and I love your new template! I noticed it before, but I didn't have a chance to comment then. It's very nice.

at 4:02 PM Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Great news, Mark. You have reason to be proud.

It may take me a bit to get used to your new template (I'm not one who likes changes) but it is very easy to read and professional looking.

at 5:49 PM Blogger Mayden's Voyage said...

How wonderful...I'm just green about it! :)
Why I write...
(this is awful, are you ready?)
One time in my journal I said, "For me, writing is as necessary as going to the bathroom!" Don't tell me to "hold it", something bad will happen if I do! :)
-BellaCora :)

at 9:05 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

September Skies - I've played them over and over and over and over....

Caryn - would you believe that when I write my Op-Ed columns at the paper, I occasionally write something contrary just to generate letters to the editor? (Just kidding - I think)

Joanne - I hate change as well, but this has grown on me pretty quick.

Mayden's Voyage (Bella?) - Sounds like a load of crap to me. ;)

Everyone loves a pun, don't they?


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