Molly's Desk: Why We Write... Right?

By: Molly McFadden

“Why did you write a play and where did you find the courage to have it read out loud for others to hear?” 

We recently had guests visiting from Michigan over the Easter Holiday and out of the blue our guest asked me this question. I was stunned and also honored that he thought well enough of my project to take the time and give it some thought which brought about the question. Looking at him for a few moments I told him that I believed I have always wanted to write, but because of the events in the past few years I now had to write.  

“Why?” he asked. 

“I have a deep desire and need to make sense of my life and time is of the essence.” I continued, “I felt deeply connected with people when we had the bistro back in Michigan and I miss that connection which our bistro brought about. Now living here in Cleveland all I feel that I have left are my words to tell my story.” 

“So why not open another bistro?” he said with a gleeful smile to which I told him, “they lose too much money.”  

He continued asking me if the courage is different from writing to performing. “I believe it is,” I answered. “I have performed most of my life and for the most part have always had the necessary courage because I love to entertain. I love to be on the stage and I love to move people to another dimension and I know I have talent. Now, however with writing it is a new playing field and I believe I am finding my courage to continue”. 

“Well... what exactly do you have to say and why do you think others will be interested,” he continued. 

Taking another gulp of wine I realized this was not going to be easy. 

“Ah yes, therein lies the truth doesn’t it?” I answered. 

Our guest continued with his insight that, being an architect, he learned early in his career that when others reviewed his drawings they were not focusing or criticizing him, it was the work and the drawings on the wall which were separate from him, so he never took it personally. However writing, he felt, is personal and he wondered how we both could have the courage to have it read or heard by others. I nodded and thinking to myself I have been searching for the answer to that very question and one we go over all the time in StageWrights. In fact, I thought with my recent play that it was important enough for others to see and hear and that they would care. 

Well…..not quite. 

It was important to write it and perhaps to go back and work on it, but for now I am to move forward and write something else. “Well” he said, still not having an adequate answer I kept thinking to myself. 

My question now is what do I have to say? Do we proceed ahead and evaluate what we think others want to hear and then write about that in order to obtain success? Or do we write about what is close to our heart and perhaps a connection will be made? I always go back to what it is I achieve best and thought that with the Bistro I never cooked a meal or designed a dish because of what others in the industry said we should serve – I always prepared a dish from inspiration and creativity and we were always sold out and booked. 

I finally answered to him, “I believe writers write for many reasons. For me it is to connect with others and to tell my story, so we are none of us alone on our journey.” I recently came across an interview Toni Morrison said with Oprah Magazine: "There are all sorts of ways people try to stay connected, try not to live in hate. Religion may be one of them, but for me the central thing is the writing. The art itself. Putting my intelligence and my humanity to the best possible use ..." I like what she said, and it resonated with me.

He liked what I had to say and gave me a toast to which I gladly finished off my wine. 

“So, what is next on the agenda for the McFaddens,” to which I answered that we both were going to continue writing and that we look forward to getting back to our StageWrights group at Ensemble Theatre.

I for one am happy that we are getting back together because I need to connect with these writers and have my work read and discussed. We comment on each other's work, never criticized, and I find their voices soothing. In fact they provide the necessary courage to continue on this journey. 

Tyler recently sent us a quote from a Twitter thread from screenwriter Paul Guyot and the one that really spoke to me was this one.  “I know it sounds hippie dippie, but I believe you must get to a place where you are writing and writing and writing for no other reason than you love the process in order to give yourself the best shot at the outcome.”

So, the holidays are over, and we are all back together, so it is back to work.

“One of the most fundamental of human fears is that our existence will go unnoticed.” 
― Ralph KeyesThe Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear