Writing has many different meanings for those who pursue the passion. Some write for their audience, while others write for themselves. No matter the reason, writing can be a healing process.
Author Alice Walker, best known for her 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Color Purple,” spoke of that process Feb. 27 at the Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, held at Point Loma University’s Brown Chapel. Students at California Baptist University were in the audience as Walker spoke to students and community members regarding her previous works, as well as her newest book, “Taking The Arrow Out Of The Heart” (2018).
During the interview, Walker explained her writing process, saying she relies on faith often when she writes. She said she believes if something is calling out to her, there is a reason for it and it deserves her full attention.
“I will spend weeks on end hardly talking to anybody to be sure that I get what it is we need: the medicine. I think that my work is medicine and I want to give the right medicine for us,” Walker said.
Walker said she sees creativity and the arts as a gift and wishes to share this gift with her readers. Walker ended the interview by encouraging young writers to find the meaning in why they write.
“If you don’t feel any joy at all in doing it, don’t do it. What I don’t hope for you is that you just sit there. Don’t keep trying to make something happen when it’s not happening in your heart and it’s not happening in your spirit,” Walker said.
Walker said she enjoys what she does as a writer and encourages students to find what they love, and this encouragement has been shared with more than just students and has helped others who wish to write.
Kelli Slattery, writer and teacher, heard about the event through her email as one of her children once attended Point Loma. Slattery’s favorite work of Walker’s is “The Color Purple,” and she said she desired to attend the event to hear the treasure of an author speak.
“I loved her advice to find the meaning. I have found that to be really the only source out of writing which has any kind of intrinsic and eternal value for me. Though her faith journey might look very different than mine, I think that’s the message of the spirit,” Slattery said.
Slattery said she walked out of the event with three pages worth of notes from Walker and her words.
Candice Johnson, an alumna of Point Loma who studied social work, also attended the event. She said she received tickets to the event as a gift from her aunt at Christmas, and she attended with members of her family.
“I liked (Alice Walker’s) personality. She’s a very personable person, with her wit and her charm,” Johnson said.
Walker and her works have been encouraging readers for years, and her advice to “find the joy” can be taken into every aspect of life, not just writing.