The easy answer to this question can be found in my FAQ’s. And even though I maintain that it’s still true, it’s a deceptively simple answer. Writing, I have found, is rarely simple, so it only makes sense that the reason behind why I write is equally complicated.
But writing looks so easy! You say. All you have to do is tell a good story.
Yes. And to make a car, all you have to do is put a chair on some wheels and push.
If you’re a little confused by that, let me explain. Because my father is a ‘I’d rather teach you how to do it yourself instead of doing it for you’ kind of parent, I have a decently basic knowledge about cars. There’s the frame, the tires, the wheels (yes, two different things, no that doesn’t make any sense to me either), the combustion engine, the starter engine, the radiator, the transmission, the battery, and a whole lot of other things that I don’t remember. Everything else is just part of the magic that makes a weird hunk of metal with all sorts of breakable parts turn into a reliable mode of transportation.
Writing is the same. (As if you couldn’t tell where that metaphor was going.) There’s the basics: syntax, grammar, spelling, punctuation, plot, story, (yes, two different things again), character development, pacing, etc. And just like any good mechanic will tell you – hopefully – if there’s something wrong with one of those basic parts, the story won’t work properly. That’s not to say it won’t work for some people, but that’s a discussion for another blog post.
Now you’re confused. Well, if it’s so hard, you ask, then why do you do it?
In the space of a few seconds, I discard the following options because they’re either not very accurate – for me at least – or they’re not socially acceptable things to say.
- Because I love it. This one is an oldy but goody. And I do love it, but there are also a lot of times when I absolutely hate it. Writing is a very one-sided relationship. You can pour your heart and soul into something, and then 3 months later when you reread it, you want to set it on fire and pretend that it never existed. I think most people would agree that that isn’t a very healthy way to deal with any kind of relationship, human or imaginary.
- Because it’s fun. Yeah… when you’ve been sitting in front of your computer with writer’s block for two weeks unable to get a single word out, let’s see how you feel about calling it ‘fun’.
- Because it’s the only way to get the voices in my head to shut up. This is one of those ‘Not Politically Correct’ answers, mainly because I don’t want anyone to think that I’m poking fun at people with legitimate mental health illnesses. But writing things down is a pretty fool proof way to get the characters in my brain to be quiet. The only problem is that story telling is a very organic process, so just because I’ve written it down doesn’t mean the story is going to stay that way.
- Because I’m good at it. That’s really more opinion based, but I’d hope I had some sort of self-confidence since I’ve apparently taken the time to tell you that I’m a writer. So this one is neither here nor there.
- Because I can do it better. This… this is the one that will get me in trouble if I’m not careful. Pride is a tricky thing. Display too little, and I’m a push over. Display too much, and I’m arrogant. But more often then not, it’s that little voice in the back of my head that gets me in front of the computer or puts the pencil in my hand. And all it has to do is whisper, “You can write that better.”
Unfortunately, all of these answers require time to explain them and a social prowess to make it make sense, which, as an introvert, I have in very short supply. So instead of the answer you’re expecting, I just flash a sardonic grin and say, Because if I didn’t, I’d go mad.
You don’t really get it, but you smile and laugh anyway, all the while wondering if all writers are this weird.
Probably. We’re a special bunch.