Chip MacGregor

August 10, 2015

I’m a Writer Because I Write


A writing friend sent me this question: “Are you a writer because of your distinctive ideas, the volume of material you produce, or because of a call or skill or gift?”

None of the above. I’m a writer because I write. It’s my venue for sharing truth and beauty and all that is important to me. It’s how I express myself. My friend Rebecca is a singer because she puts herself into her songwriting and musical performance. My buddy Brad is a doctor because that’s how he connects to the world and shares himself and his abilities. Maybe that constitutes a calling — it’s certainly a gift. But I’ve always seen books and words as a reflection of who I am. Some of us have to write, the way others have to sing or run or paint or speak or run or lead. With me, words tend to pour out.

The thing that doesn’t get talked about very much is the fact that not everybody can be a writer, and few of us can ever be great writers. I’m all for writing conferences, because I often get to meet and encourage diamonds in the rough. And I’m a big supporter of mentor/protégé relationships because they allow an experienced person to share with an inexperienced person. But I’ve come to believe there’s a limit to the talent that can be shared. I believe I can make a writer better, but I’m not convinced I can ever make a writer great — some people just have the gift. Some people can paint, some people can sing, some people can dance – we can write.

Occasionally I come across a writer whose talent is enormous, and it usually leaves me in TomRobbingsawe. I love that. At a conference this past weekend, I had a chance to host a salon with one of my favorite writers, Tom Robbins — an author whom many believe is one of the great American novelists of the past 50 years. I need to do a blog post just on his words, because he was amazing — insightful and funny and encouraging and very practical. And he didn’t need to be any of those things, since he’s one of the greats. He could have been arrogant or dismissive (um… I’ve met my share of successful authors who have forgotten how to relate to beginning writers), yet he wasn’t at all. Instead, he just shared some of his wisdom, telling the folks at the conference what he thinks is important, and what they need to consider in their writing.

For all my ego, I still appreciate someone who can do something better than me. I have represented several writers who are simply marvelous wordsmiths, and much better at writing than I’ll ever be (off the top of my head, I can name Lisa Samson, Ann Tatlock, Susan Meissner, Elizabeth Musser, Gina Holmes, Jessica Dotta, Mark Bertrand, Rachel Hauck, Mindy Clark… there are others). It doesn’t bother me one bit to know they’re better at their craft than I am – I’m just happy I get to represent their work. As a man, it doesn’t bother me that Tiger Woods is a better golfer than I’ll ever be, or that on an off day Diana Krall still has more musical talent that I could ever hope to have. And I’m at peace with that.

A couple questions for writing friends… Why do you write? And if you could sit and talk with any living writer, who would you like to chat with? 

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  • Robin Pizzo says:

    Why write? Because
    there is a story to be told. A history to be experienced A poem
    to be versed. A lyric to sing. A child
    that needs an escape, an adventure, and to discover they are not alone. But
    who will read it? Perhaps a one, or 100
    or a million or seven billion. Who cares?
    When the creative muse is sitting across the table and beckoning to be
    given attention. The writer’s life is to

  • Jan Cline says:

    What I like is that you still like to go to conferences and are pleased to search for that diamond in the rough. I often wonder if it gets old for the professionals who come and listen to our dreams, frustrations and fears. We appreciate all you do and that you can still encourage and appreciate us! We are writers, but you are a facilitator of the best kind.

  • Patricia Zell says:

    I’m a writer because a long time ago I asked God to provide a way for me to share what He was showing me in the Word. Then, I created a series of stories in my head and needed a way to tell them. Many years later, I marvel at what I didn’t know at that time and at how faithful God is. When I first started writing, one statement that I often read was that writers don’t become “good” writers until they write a million words. I completely understand that statement.

  • I write because it’s an means of expression that’s not only cathartic but necessary. There are some things that can only be expressed (or felt) though words. Writing fiction also allows my imagination room to expand and develop ideas that would otherwise be stifled. Maybe I’m eternally optimistic, but I think I will always write…no matter what.

  • Amy Leigh Simpson says:

    Love this, Chip! Well said.

  • Robin Patchen says:

    So true. I’m a writer because I can’t not write. I’m also a writer because I can’t sing, or play an instrument, or dance, or garden, or sew, or paint, or… Well, you get the point. I’m a writer because God didn’t give me very many choices. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    • Jaime Wright says:

      DITTO!! Even Ditto about the instrument, dance, garden (oh help my plants!), sew, or paint … I tried not writing for a month to see if it was a relief from the self-pressure I inflict on myself. It was like telling my daughter she could never eat pizza again. Not pretty. I tried not to throw a temper tantrum…my husband practically threw my laptop at me and cried, “WRITE ALREADY!”

    • Robin Patchen says:

      That’s funny, Jaime. Like you, I must be writing, editing, or critiquing something all the time.

  • Cherry Odelberg says:

    “I’m a writer because I write. It’s my venue for sharing truth and beauty and all that is important to me.” (I am a musician because I play the piano and sing. That too is my venue for sharing truth and beauty and all that is important to me). Nice little nutshell explanation.

  • Love this! It took a long time for me to actually call myself a writer. And like Ron, I tried to give it up. I have other, more practical talents. But it only took a few months before I felt like my soul was suffocating. So I realized I was an idiot and went back to it. I guess that’s a good indication of where your passion lies: if you feel like you’re going to die without it, you should probably not give up on it. Lesson learned.

  • JeanneTakenaka says:

    Since I began writing, I’ve had a number of people say, “I could never write a book.” But, they have other gifts, some which I could never do. We each have giftings, given in various measures. I how you mentioned being at peace with your abilities, while knowing and representing people who you consider better. It’s a good reminder for me too. Not that I won’t continue to grow in my wriitng skills and in crafting a good story. Great post today, Chip.

  • Being at peace with who God created us to be . . .I think you’ve illustrated that beautifully in this one Chip. I’ve been known to cry watching someone use their God given gifts, like the awful night my daughter was hit by a semi and I watched all the emergency crews do what they are called to do. While my heart was beating wildly witnessing the aftermath of trauma, I was equally in awe of what was happening all around me to take care of the situation. The gifts of others don’t diminish my gifts, they leave me in awe of the Creator. And I write to share truth and beauty because it’s important to me too. Thanks for this, a good reminder of why I write.

  • Ron Estrada says:

    I tried to give it up once. It felt like a part of me had been cut off. The other aspect of writing is that it gives me such a greater appreciation of the novels I read for pleasure. And I get to talk to some of those gifted writers you listed (and they even take me seriously). I can’t think of a cooler life than this.

  • I totally love this. When I choose not to do what I enjoy or am good at I remove a part of my identity, most likely not in exchange for anything else.

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