I’ve spent the last week on the Florida Panhandle in Destin. I haven’t written (until this morning, the last day of our week here) but I have thought about writing a great deal. Last night, after having seafood at Dewey Destin, a restaurant that is little more than a shack on a wharf jetting out into the Gulf of Mexico, we walked to the edge of the pier. The sun was about to set. As we stood watching it sink into the bright orange horizon, two dolphins appeared. Facing each other, they leaped out of the water and flipped over—again and again. Their performance was timed as perfectly as anything I’d ever seen at Sea World. There was no reward of fish at the end of their display, no cheers from the bleachers. Nothing to indicate anyone was watching. Those dolphins were merely doing what came naturally to them—doing what they loved for no reason except the pure joy of it.
I think we writers can take a lesson from those human-like creatures. If you love to write, if you need to write, don’t worry about the rewards. The exterior ones may or may not come. The internal rewards are there and we reap them with every story, essay, journal entry, or poem we write. Each new word is an act of discovery. And perhaps one of the most important things in life is a clear understanding of who you are.
So this is the lesson of the dolphins. First and foremost, do it for the joy. Write because it is in your nature to do so.