Dear writers, why do we write? – My reason

This question came at me out of the blue this evening after a particularly long day that started with a 2 1/2 hour commute to the body shop and rental car agency before work (almost triple the usual with an odd detour). The off the cuff response to ‘WHY?!’ is: because maybe writing is a sort of really cheap drug that doesn’t actually get you high. I mean, I could quit if I wanted to, right?

Probably not – and that’s the crux of dependency, isn’t it?

Everyone who knows me, knows that I started programming back in high school and went to college for the same. What fewer folk know is that I started out with little games and I wanted to turn that into programming games for a living. It turns out, I’m not really smart enough for that sort of thing and don’t have the temperament to live in the sort of city where that’s a possible job option and I certainly haven’t got the steady hand nor sharp eye you have with most artists. My creative world lives in making things where I can measure twice and cut once. it’s one of the reasons I like wood-working. There’s a precision your tools give you that a paint-brush, for example, won’t. In any case, my education and various career options led me to where I am today. Not game programming.

I don’t want to sound as though I don’t enjoy my job. In fact, I think that after having left a year and returned, I feel much more fortunate and committed than ever before. You sometimes get lucky and it’s not always obvious when you do.

So, here I am today, a writer who’s chief success is publication in a small-town newspaper as the author of a sometimes entertaining recipe box. My lesser known successes are more of the personal variety and simply involve having actually drafted more than one novel (I’m up to 3 and have two more well on their way to full draft status). On more than one occasion, I’ve attempted to just give it up completely and walk away, because well crap, I’m not very good at this and in spite of tremendous support and help from the writing community haven’t managed to achieve the fundamental author task of just getting something published.

Repeated failure is demoralizing, and incredibly painful to the ego yet, I keep doing it, and I’m not alone. So many of us are in the same boat, constantly chipping away at a story that we desperately want to share and not quite getting there. Or better, finding that one lucky break that puts us in the enviable position of getting to write for a living! Oh my. Wouldn’t that be something.

To circle back around the the metaphor with the drug & dependency. I can’t speak for my colleagues out there, but for me, I cling to the tangible creative outlet that writing provides. It’s a way to express myself and create things that didn’t exist before. When I was a kid, I was absolutely intoxicated by the writings of those who created new worlds for me to explore and be a part of, and ever since, I’ve remained drunk on the idea and am continually looking for a bigger fix, and in comes writing, the only drug that might get me that next big high with the occasional collapsed ego hang-over.

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7 thoughts on “Dear writers, why do we write? – My reason

  1. JJ Petes says:

    If I’m honest with myself, I write to make money, only I don’t actually make any. If someone told me I would absolutely never make money writing, I would quit. After studying the professional writer world for a few years, the key to making money has nothing to do with writing skill. Many bloggers on here, including you, are just as strong a writer as many professional novelists. Nicholas Sparks even admits he has friends who are better writers, but they are not better business men. The key is in the business end. You don’t have to write well. You have to write something people want to read. I saw just the other day that How to Win Friends and Influence People was a top-10 bestseller in 2016 and it was written nearly a century ago. The answer is right there in that book. People read it, because of what they expect to get from it, not because it is well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is an insightful perspective, and when I put myself in the shoes of a different role (let’s say programmer), I completely get it. It’s all about pitching to the audience. I think where I personally get stuck with writing is finding that audience and reading it properly. It’s something I’d say I’m good at in my day-job, but the business of connecting with an audience still eludes me for writing. Perhaps some day I’ll work that out.

      Like

    • vaniamargene says:

      “You don’t have to write well. You have to write something people want to read.”

      Thank you for saying this. Writing to market, in the indie community, sounds like selling your soul to the devil, or rather, selling out creatively. You don’t open a business selling something no one wants, so why would you write it? The trick is to find a niche that is not saturated, and one you enjoy writing in.

      I’m still learning how to write, and I invest a lot of time in editing, but I can’t wait for the day when a sweep or two to fix typos will be all I need to write a decent book.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. For me, publication is an amazing bonus, but the true joy – the deeper joy, the soul joy – comes from the writing itself. I started writing because I loved stories. Of course I dream of seeing my book on a shelf, but publication is for my ego – writing is for my heart. I relate to the demoralization you feel when you get rejected, but I hope you keep writing and keep loving stories. That is infinitely more valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kyle Malone says:

    I ask myself this far too frequently not to have come up with a solid answer.

    I suppose it is what I love, and I know that because there are a lot of things that I am much better at with greater earning potential. Yet always I find myself back here, slapping keys, posting “publish” in the late hours of the night and secretly waiting for a view or two before I find peace in sleep.

    Writing isn’t a craft alone anymore, as many others have pointed out. Now it’s about marketing yourself AND your writing at the same time. Talent isn’t gonna cut it. Hard work isn’t gonna cut it. You just have to find the right market, serve up the right content, and have a few lucky turns along the way. It’s a sad truth, but it’s a truth nonetheless.

    To sum up, to become a great writer, all you need is a good instagram account and an inkling of ability to boot.

    P.S. Sorry that sounds so cynical but the “game” is changing very fast and I just hope that the substance isn’t lost in it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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