Take swimming: if I only loved winning races, I could never say that I love swimming, because the truth of the matter is that during my high school and college swimming careers, I have rarely (if ever) won any races. However, I do love swimming; I love the act of swimming, of being in the water, of training for races, of competing against other swimmers.
Take singing. My sister says she loves to sing. However, I doubt she could really say she love to sing if she only loved to perform arias in front of huge audiences and despised practicing scales and choral work. Fortunately, she says that singing anything “perfectly” makes her feel so alive, so wonderful that she would rather be doing that than anything else. Hence, why she hopes to pursue a career in opera.
Now, take writing. I say I love to write. However, what I really love is having others read and appreciate my writing. I cannot honestly say that I love the act of writing. In fact, if I am honest, the act of writing is really quite horrid. It is a struggle requiring dogged tenacity, infinite self-patience, and more ways of dealing with frustration than I am capable of creating. Most of the time, when I am writing an assignment, I feel like beating my head through a brick wall rather than try to type one more word. However, once I have finished revising my story/article/research paper/essay for the seventy-third-and-a-half time, finally turn it in, and receive feedback like “Superb work, Allison! I can find nothing to criticize,” or “The way things are presented without directly telling us is brilliant,” (on two different assignments, no less) makes me wonder why I ever questioned my own purpose.
I cannot get satisfaction from that kind of praise for anything else that I do. If I play a pretty song on the piano or make a good play at a volleyball match, those compliments are great, but they are nothing compared to being complimented on my writing. The closest thing to someone enjoying my writing is someone enjoying my cooking, and even that is not nearly comparable, probably because food doesn’t last. Food cannot be shared in a timeless way, between scores of people. It can be ruined in an instant (which I know all-too-well) and must appeal to the aesthetic senses as well as the gustatory. Writing is permanent, and changes that are made last. Writing can be shared over time, across space, and between people. The pleasure people get out of reading something creative or witty is a completely different kind of pleasure than anything I have ever seen or experienced, and being able to create that in others is a power that exhilarates me.
However, I still don’t know if this qualifies me to say that “I love writing.” Can I say, “I love having written”?